Tue, Apr 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Government urged to use geothermal energy sources

By Lai Hsiao-tung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An academic has called on the government to consider exploiting geothermal energy sources near Taipei, while businesspeople urged the local and central governments to clear up administrative hurdles to “renewable” energy investments.

New Taipei City in May 2015 launched a joint venture with the Bureau of Energy and the Industrial Technology Research Institute at Sihuangziping (四磺子平) in the city’s Jinshan District (金山) to develop a geothermal power plant, New Taipei City Government official Liao Shih-wei (廖士緯) said.

Initial estimates after a year of drilling placed the site’s power generation potential at 5.5 megawatts electric, or 37.6 million watt-hours, Liao said, adding that the estimated capacity can meet the annual power consumption of Jinshan residents.

Liao said the data were gleaned from calculations, as the city government failed to drill three test sites to required depths of 2km to 3km.

The city drilled only one site to a depth of 1.3km, he added.

The city held a meeting with potential investors, during which businesspeople said the wholesale price for electricity was NT$4.9 per watt-hour, far below production costs.

The lack of any guarantees for energy producers to search and drill for alternative energy sources and long waiting periods for environmental impact assessment reports are obstacles to investment, they said.

The difficulty of promoting geothermal power production lies not with funding or the technology, but with national policies, the businesspeople said.

If the central and local governments can work with the companies and expedite administrative processes, technical difficulties would not be hard to overcome, they added.

Geothermal power production is “inevitable” if the nation is to move away from nuclear power, said Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎), professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Biomedical Electronics and Bioinformatics.

Kao said the central government should provide funding to transform the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) into a geothermal power plant.

The Datun Volcanic Group (大屯火山群) might have magma chambers the size of a quarter of Taipei and if the central government launched a project to drill a 5km shaft into the chamber, it would solve the nation’s energy problem, Kao said.

New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Yeh Hui-ching (葉惠青) said that with the central government’s full support, the city government would seek to hasten the transition of power generation from nuclear energy to “renewable” energy sources and start looking for bidders for build-operate-transfer projects.

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