Measures proposed by the Bureau of Energy, which are to be implemented from next month to September, aim to encourage households and businesses to save energy and would require the public sector to reduce unnecessary use of lighting and air-conditioning.
The bureau estimates the measures would save 1,250 megawatts of electricity this summer.
There is ample room for the nation to enhance energy conservation and reduce power consumption by heavy users. However, what needs to be done is to change the behavior of users through different electricity rates for peak and off-peak hours.
If less power is consumed during peak hours, that would reduce demand for power generation while allowing a more efficient allocation of resources.
In the long run, the government’s pledge to make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025 makes it even more important to speed up development of the “green” energy industry.
Taiwan is highly reliant on fuel imports, so it is seeking other energy sources as its fuel supplies are challenged by various factors, including transportation, safety and security issues. Businesses have also raised concerns about their production and profits being constrained by a tight electricity supply.
The government places increasing emphasis on solar power and offshore wind power generation, while trying to reduce reliance on coal. It is aiming for solar farms to generate 20 gigawatts of power by 2025, from less than 2 gigawatts last year, while building up to 1,000 more wind turbines over the next eight years.
The government’s energy blueprint envisions that renewable energy sources would contribute 20 percent of the nation’s total energy needs by 2025, compared with 4.8 percent last year. It also aims to boost electricity generated by natural gas plants to 50 percent of the total, from 32.4 percent.
As wind power is becoming a competitive source of electricity thanks to technological improvements and the development of larger turbines, and shows better returns on investment than solar power, investors from Denmark, Germany, Canada, Singapore and Australia have shown high interest in the past year in Taiwanese offshore wind projects, in addition to several domestic players.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ target is to increase wind-generated power capacity to 4,200 megawatts by 2025 to account for 33 percent of total renewable energy installations.
The ministry last month launched its National Renewable Energy Certificate center, which is expected to issue its first certificate before the end of next month, to attract foreign enterprises that want to be able to pledge to use “green” energy when investing or placing orders with local manufacturers.
A transition in Taiwan’s energy structure and people’s mindset is in the works, albeit slowly by the standards of development elsewhere in the world.
Despite people’s legitimate concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants and the pollution caused by coal-fired electricity generators, the government’s ambitious plans attempt to achieve a lot in a short period of time, and difficulties lie ahead with regard to consumers’ readiness to pay more to fund the transition, obtaining land for the construction of renewable energy generation facilities and the energy industry’s acquisition of technology and funding.
Public feedback is essential: Public concerns over stability of supply and development cost have presented a considerable challenge to the promotion of renewable energy, putting tremendous pressure on the public and private sectors while long-term developments are presented in an oversimplified way.
If done right, stimulating the development of “green” energy projects under the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program could be a critical step forward.
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