Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Prioritize ‘green energy’: lawmaker

DODGING THE QUESTION Asked what the Presidential Office’s position was on a renewable energy bill, Wang Yu-chi said reporters should talk to the Executive Yuan

By Meggie Lu and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Reporters and other visitors line up to look inside a wind turbine during a guided tour organized by national electricity provider Taiwan Power Co, in Yunlin County yesterday.

PHOTO: LIN KUO-HSIEN, TAIPEI TIMES

The government should work to attract “green energy” businesses to Taiwan and retain those already operating on the local market, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday, adding that the nation should not depend on nuclear energy.

Tien made the comments after German firm InfraVest Wind Power Group, the only private wind power company in Taiwan, announced on Monday that it would withdraw from the local market if a proposed statute on promoting renewable energy was not passed.

“The statute governing the development of renewable energy is a regulation that would boost the economy and protect the environment, but has been stalled in the legislature,” Tien said.

The statute governing the development of renewable energy has lain idle in the legislature for six years, Tien said. Since it entered its second reading in January, no discussion of the bill has been arranged.

Many countries around the globe are aggressively developing renewable energies, Tien said at a press conference.

Tien cited Berlin as a model supporter of green energy. Since passing a law to cut costs of renewable energy in the national power grid, Germany has not only created the world’s largest solar power company and many wind power firms, it has also created 250,000 jobs, she said.

“Where is our nation’s green policy? Without passing laws, we are driving away green energy firms,” she said.

Tien said the government should not place all its hope on nuclear power, as the global supply of uranium ore was estimated to last only four to five decades.

“Considering the safety risks posed by nuclear plants — Taiwan is very earthquake prone — the government should weigh this matter carefully at tomorrow’s National Energy Conference,” she said.

InfraVest general manager Ma Weilin (馬維麟) said yesterday by phone that her firm was mainly considering pulling out of Taiwan because the prices set by Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) were unfair.

“Since opening the Taiwan branch nine years ago, InfraVest has invested more than US$398 million setting up 88 wind turbines in central Taiwan,” Ma said.

But while Taipower purchases electricity generated by private coal-fired power plants at NT$2.7 per kilowatt hour and electricity generated by natural gas plants for NT$3 to NT$4 per kilowatt hour, “over the past nine years, Taipower has paid us NT$2 per kilowatt hour of electricity,” Ma said.

“It puzzles us that it pays about NT$4 for natural gas, which is a clean source of energy, but only gives us NT$2 when our energy is even cleaner,” she said.

Ma said her company requested Taipower pay the same for its energy as it pays natural gas power plants. Unless this condition is met, InfraVest’s losses would soon be too much to sustain, she said.

The Presidential Office yesterday shrugged off InfraVest’s possible withdrawal from Taiwan, saying the problem was not its responsibility.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) declined to respond to the company’s complaint.

Wang said that while Ma was very concerned about energy conservation and cutting carbon emissions, he was only responsible for laying down the general direction of policies.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs would be in a better position to comment, he said.

Asked to explain the government’s policy on renewable energies, Wang said it should become clearer at the two-day National Energy Conference organized by the Executive Yuan and scheduled to start today.

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