Thu, May 12, 2011 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Why is solar struggling?

I’d like to respond to Gavin Lee’s well-researched and thoughtful article in the Taipei Times (“Commitment to renewable energy,” May 10, page 8), in which he asked whether the government plans “to take the development of renewable energy seriously or not.” Briefly, the answer to Lee’s question is “no.”

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the fossilized Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government are beholden to the petrochemical industry and they really couldn’t care less about Taiwan’s solar makers. According to recent filings from the Taiwan Stock Exchange, Motech Industries Inc, the nation’s largest solar panel maker, reported yet another devastating drop in sales, while the average selling price for solar wafers is at a historic low.

The KMT administration could easily support the industry by mandating that all rooftops at elementary and high schools be covered with solar panels, thereby getting them “off the grid” and providing an emergency option during natural disasters or power outages.

They could simplify the procedures whereby people could slash their electricity bills by installing solar panels on their rooftops or exterior walls, but they won’t. This is all part of their plan to hollow out Taiwan’s industrial core and relocate all the high-tech industries to China.

Instead, they keep the prices of water, gasoline and electricity well below both international averages and the cost of production, which also adds to Taiwan’s monstrous national debt, because it is paid for with taxpayers’ money.

According to supply-demand dynamics, rising utility prices would encourage consumers to reduce waste, but our flaccid KMT administration would rather keep the business-as-usual model going as long as possible.

This explains the shops with open doors blasting their air conditioners all day, the countless empty taxis trolling for fares and the thousands of scooter drivers who think nothing of sitting at 90-second lights with their engines idling.

I appreciate Lee’s “youthful” energy and his quest for “innovation,” but if he is holding his breath for the KMT administration to actually get serious about reducing Taiwan’s carbon emissions and embracing green energy, he’ll probably turn blue and pass out.

TORCH PRATT

New Taipei City

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