Mon, May 09, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Academics debate new energy policy approach

LOOKING FORWARD:One expert said that the nation relied far too much on the import of energy, with import dependence reaching as high as 99.3 percent in 2009

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Academics gathered at National Taiwan University on Friday made a number of proposals on government energy policy and plans to reduce carbon emission, but failed to reach a consensus.

Among the subjects discussed at the forum, held at the Public Economics Research Center, were current and future energy policies, policy dilemmas, industrial development and renewable energy.

The meeting was held amid increasing concern over energy policy in the wake of serious leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan in March, said Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝), former chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development and a professor at the department of economics at the university.

“Taiwan’s energy policies are contradictory,” Chen said, adding that although the government was urging the public to save energy, it was unwilling to increase electricity, gas and oil prices as an incentive to do so.

The main problem is that energy policy today is still directed by lower-ranking government agencies and both the budget and personnel for energy research is inadequate, he said.

Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), a professor at the school’s department of atmospheric sciences, said that current energy policies relied too much on energy imports (import dependence was 99.3 percent in 2009), overly high total electricity consumption, low energy efficiency, disproportionate energy use by -energy-intensive industries relative to their contribution to GDP growth, and a lack of tangible targets or a timetable for carbon emissions reduction.

Liang Chi-yuan (梁啟源), president of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research and a research fellow at the Institute of Economics at Academia Sinica, said that the dilemma faced by current energy policies was that while over dependence on energy imports was a problem, the limited availability of renewable energy made it too expensive and ensured erratic supply.

Renewable energy power facilities require more space, but Taiwan is a densely populated and mountainous country, Liang said, adding that a disproportionate level of energy consumption and carbon emissions in Taiwan was accounted for by industrial units that manufacture products for exports.

Tso Chunto (左峻德), a research division director at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said current energy sources should be replaced with renewable energy, including solar energy, bioethanol (a kind of alcohol that can be produced from agricultural feedstock and used as motor fuel) and wind power.

As Taiwan has a comprehensive chain of wind power facilities, the government should seek to enhance its potential by adding wind power to public construction projects, Tso said.

Moreover, plans for bioethanol should be made an integral part of rural regeneration plans, to balance economic growth with environment sustainability, he said.

Hsu was more focused on opposing pro-nuclear power policies in Taiwan, adding that energy demand growth estimates provided by the Bureau of Energy were exaggerated.

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