Thu, Aug 25, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan must use geothermal sources to generate electricity, scientists urge

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taiwan is rich in geothermal energy and should make more use of this sustainable natural resource to generate electricity, thus helping to alleviate pressure on the country’s other power generation facilities, geoscientists said yesterday.

Song Sheng-rong (宋聖榮), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Geology, said geothermal energy is abundant beneath Taiwan.

“Estimates of the electricity-generating potential of geothermal energy in Taiwan totals about 25.4 gigawatts, equivalent to 9.7 times the total installed capacity of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant,” Song said during a press conference on renewable energy.

One gigawatt is equal to one billion watts.

“Taiwan could reduce its -reliance on nuclear power plants if it were to explore and develop geothermal power,” Song said.

He recommended geothermal energy as a safe, sustainable and low-pollution power source. Meanwhile, Lee Chao-shing (李昭興), a professor at National Taiwan Ocean University’s Institute of Applied Geosciences, said that CPC Corp, Taiwan, built a geothermal power plant in Qingshui (清水), Yilan County, in 1981 that had an installed capacity of 3 million watts.

It was the 14th such plant in the world to be able to successfully generate electricity from geothermal energy, Lee said. However, the plant was closed down 12 years later, the victim of technical bottlenecks.

Today, geothermal power is a rising star in the world’s energy sector, with drilling and related technologies constantly progressing and maturing, Lee said.

Geothermal power has become increasingly popular worldwide as fossil fuel prices continue to soar and nuclear power plants trigger radiation crises, he added.

Lee suggested that Taiwan could emulate Iceland, the US, the Philippines and New Zealand — the major countries that use geothermal energy to generate electricity — by tapping its own geothermal resources.

Taking Iceland as an example, Lee said that geothermal energy is not only used to generate electricity, but is also used to heat swimming pools, fishing ponds and greenhouses.

Both Song and Lee are involved in an energy resources exploration project authorized by the National Science Council.

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