Of the 82 wind turbines that make up Taiwan Power Co's (Taipower, (台電) wind-powered energy generation plans, as many as 51 turbines have at one time or another been inoperative.
Taipower blames the high rate of malfunctioning on Taiwan’s hot climate and lack of supporting equipment. The high rate of breakdown is a significant setback to the implementation of the government’s renewable energy policy.
To meet government targets for clean energy, Taipower planned to invest NT$19 billion (US$624 million) in 180 wind turbines, with a total capacity of 330,000 kilowatts, between 2003 and 2010. However, to date, only 82 have been completed, with the malfunction rate reaching a high 62 percent.
Taipower said that, of the malfunctioning turbines, three were manufactured by GE, 22 by Harakosan and six by Gamesa. Most of the turbines are distributed along the western shoreline.
In terms of generation, the 82 completed turbines have generated 560 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. At NT$2 per kilowatt-hour, the turbines have generated NT$1.12 billion, a miniscule sum compared with its investment of nearly NT$10 billion.
As for capacity utilization, only the turbines in Penghu County and Changhua County were able to operate at 47 percent and 35 percent respectively. In other areas, such as in Shihmen (石門), Taipei County, and Hengchun (恆春), Pingtung County, the turbines were operating at less than 30 percent capacity.
Commenting on the major problems surrounding wind power generation, an unnamed director from Taipower described the situation as “utterly ridiculous.” Some Taipower staff also questioned the fact that the department in charge of wind-power generation had not been held responsible nor faced disciplinary action.
Sources say that the 51 faulty turbines were all contract based on the most advantageous, rather than the lowest, bids.
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