Wed, Jun 12, 2002 - Page 2 News List

New group pushes renewable energy

GREEN POWER Attending the inauguration event for an association promoting alternative energy, politicians said they would do more to further sustainable development

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun rides a ``green'' scooter yesterday at the inaugural ceremony of the Taiwan Renewable Energy Industry Promotion Association.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taiwan Renewable Energy Industry Promotion Association (台灣新能源產業促進協會) was established yesterday. It is Taiwan's first association to bring together diverse industries promoting different sources of renewable energy, including solar and wind power, biomass and fuel cells.

More than 200 representatives from industry, the academic community and the government attended the launching ceremony for the association yesterday.

The association's establishment comes as political figures are promising a host of ambitious moves to promote renewable energy and ensure sustainable development in Taiwan, including the revamping of energy policy.

Association chairman Chan Shih-hung (詹世弘), who is also president of Yuan Ze University (元智大學) and a fuel-cell expert, said that renewable technologies, which have matured over the past few years, demonstrate how environmental protection and economic development can coexist.

At the ceremony, lawmakers and government officials vowed to promote renewable energy in a bid to improve Taiwan's international competitiveness.

New energy-related laws, such as Subsidy Regulations for Developing Renewable Energy (獎勵再生能源發展條例) and the Energy Conservation Law (節約能源法), are currently being reviewed by the legislature, DPP Legislator Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟) said.

"Hopefully these new laws will be passed by the end of this year to form a legal basis for promoting renewable energy-related industries," said Lai, who is one of the association's founders.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun, who chairs the Cabinet's Council for Sustainable Development, said the council would assist industry in promoting renewable energy to not only commercialize products but to also explore markets overseas.

"Developing renewable-energy industries will be one of the key issues for the government to successfully turn Taiwan into a technological dreamland, a Green Silicon Island," Yu said.

According to the Cabinet, only 11 of the world's 136 countries have designate their heads of state or premiers to chair Cabinet-level councils for sustainable development and Taiwan is one of the 11.

Yu yesterday rode a green electric scooter powered by fuel cells, which uses hydrogen as its energy source and emits only water vapor.

Both scientists and developers believe that a cost-effective fuel cell would enable people to reduce emissions of CO2, a greenhouse gas.

Representatives of scooter producer Asia Pacific Fuel Cell Technologies Ltd said that the highest speed for such a scooter might be 80kph when it is commercialized by 2004.

"Each metal hydride canister, which costs less than NT$30, can power the scooter for 30km," said Dephne Chueh (闕君玲) of Asia Pacific, adding that each scooter can carry four backup canisters.

After his experience riding the pollution-free vehicle, Premier Yu said the government would do its best to promote environmentally friendly products.

"To promote green products, we might adopt several strategies, such as offering subsidies and tax reductions," Yu said in response to a question from the Taipei Times.

Yu admitted that the government has not focused on this field enough in the past and would try to remedy the problem.

Industry representatives, meanwhile, said that current subsidies were too low to simulate demand and entice manufacturers to enter the market.

"Existing building codes must be revised to broaden markets for renewable-energy products," said James Kuo (郭有福), assistant manager of marketing with Ever Bright Optoelectronics Co.

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