Taiwan has the potential to become a global leader in renewable energy development if it succeeds in energy transformation, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told an international symposium in Taipei yesterday.
The International Symposium on Sustainability Science was held by the Academia Sinica and attended by about 350 academics from the US, Japan, Australia and other countries.
The symposium aims to raise international awareness about sustainability and air pollution; to promote international collaboration; and bring international views and experiences to local communities, Academia Sinica President James Liao (廖俊智) said.
In her opening speech, Tsai quoted former US president Barack Obama as saying at the UN Climate Summit in 2014: “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”
Although Taiwan is not a UN member, it endeavors to contribute to sustainable development in its region and in the world, she said.
As the government plans to generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, it is working to develop the sector by attracting domestic and foreign investments, and by promoting the Executive Yuan’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, she said.
“One of the world’s best wind farm sites is off Changhua County,” Tsai said.
In the first panel discussion, International Council for Science president Gordon McBean asked how Taiwan plans to achieve its renewable energy generation goal.
“It is a difficult goal,” Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said, adding that the ministry is working to achieve the goal by promoting a two-year photovoltaic power project and a four-year offshore wind power project.
Speaking about the nation’s decarbonization goal, Yang said the ministry plans to improve coal-burning facilities at state-run utilities, such as Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and CPC Corp, Taiwan.
Taipower has budgeted NT$9 billion (US$297.6 million) to install desulfurization facilities at its coal-fired and gas-fired power plants, Yang said, adding that the ministry is working closely with the Environmental Protection Administration to curb air pollution.
As for Vice President Chen Chien-jen’s (陳建仁) statement on Saturday that the nation can phase out coal-fired power plants by 2050, Yang said it is “a vision” without a concrete plan at present.
To phase out coal-fired power plants, the nation must have sufficient and diversified sources of energy, especially when the transportation and storage of natural gas have certain risks, he said.
In related news, the National Applied Research Laboratories is today to establish a “green” energy research alliance in Tainan in a bid to integrate industrial and academic resources to promote renewable energy development in the planned Shalun Green Energy Science City.
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