The Executive Yuan on Wednesday designated about 2,500 hectares of farmland no longer suitable for agriculture in central and southern Taiwan as sites for the construction of solar power facilities to develop renewable energy.
The act gave the nation’s solar power industry the green light to build facilities in Yunlin, Chiayi and Changhua counties, where large amounts of farmland have turned fallow due to ground subsidence.
Severe ground subsidence caused by excessive groundwater extraction led to 1,253 hectares of farmland in Yunlin, Chiayi and Changhua to be designated as unsuitable for agriculture.
A corridor spanning 1,266 hectares surrounding the high-speed rail line in Changhua and Yunlin was also on the Executive Yuan’s list, as ground subsidence related to train operations has greatly affected the area.
The designation was made after Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) heard an interministerial report by the National Development Council, the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Saying that upholding “the principle of agricultural land solely for agricultural use” remains the government’s top priority, the Executive Yuan expressed its worry that quality farmland might be used for solar power should too many regions be designated for energy development, as generating electricity is generally more profitable than growing crops.
As the 2,519 hectares are undoubtedly unsuitable for farming, reutilizing that land for solar energy will not spark opposition, it said.
The government is to survey whether more farmland could be used to generate electricity, especially severely polluted fields.
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