Mon, May 28, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Renewables can recharge Taiwan

By Alex Tong 童遷祥

Coupling the capabilities of domestic research organizations with the renewable energy equipment industry, it seems that it would not be that difficult to meet these goals. It is on this foundation that the government has planned a policy to maximize renewable energy. If that can be combined with energy saving through the provision of appropriate incentives to different groups, we would be able to reduce our energy dependence at an even faster pace, which would help reduce the impact of fuel and electricity price increases.

In terms of energy savings, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) announced last month that the government would make NT$100 billion (US$3.37 billion) in loans available for companies wishing to invest in energy-saving equipment. I would further propose the establishment of a green energy credit guarantee fund that would underwrite bank loans to businesses or individuals who have elected to install energy saving equipment or are seeking energy saving services. That would mean that banks would provide the capital, while the guarantee fund would carry all the risk. Since the banks carry no risk whatsoever, the government would be able to negotiate significantly lower interest rate loans. There are currently such funds in operation in other countries that could serve as a reference for the practical operation and management of such a fund.

Following the announcement of the fuel and energy price hike, the ministry has rolled out two plans for subsidizing the purchase of energy saving household appliances and that has had some effect on stimulating eco-oriented purchases. The establishment of a green energy credit guarantee fund would offer a business model that would more systematically encourage energy saving measures on an even larger scale and it would also demonstrate to the public that the government is determined to actively promote energy saving.

An international comparison shows that renewable energy makes up 11 percent of power generation in the US, 20 percent in Germany, 26 percent in China and more than 30 percent in Spain and Denmark. All these countries have a higher energy self-sufficiency than Taiwan, but they also started to promote renewable energy a long time ago. There is no reason why Taiwan, which is relying on energy imports to match 99 percent of its energy consumption need, should not hurry to catch up with these countries by developing renewable energy and improving its current situation.

Alex Tong is vice president of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, which is in charge of the Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratory.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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