Wed, Dec 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Experts urge guidelines for offshore wind farm projects

DANGER:Developers might seek compensation if the government fails to give them construction approvals through convincing procedures, an academic said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Several experts at a public hearing yesterday urged the Bureau of Energy to establish clear and legitimate guidelines for its two-stage selection process for offshore wind farm projects, which is to begin next year.

The public hearing was hosted by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) and Taiwan Renewable Energy Alliance director Kao Ju-ping (高茹萍) at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Developers of offshore wind farm projects are to go through the bureau’s selection process after they obtain approvals from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

As of last month, the EPA has given initial approvals to 19 projects, with their aggregate capacity amounting to 10.07 gigawatts (GW).

Under the government’s goal to develop a local industry of offshore wind farm technology, the bureau would give first approvals to developers who have closer ties to local suppliers, and who have better techniques and financial backing, the bureau’s Energy Technology Division head Chen Chung-hsien (陳崇憲) said.

The bureau would then select projects based on their bidding prices, Chen said, adding that it aims to generate 5.5GW of electricity from offshore wind farms by 2025.

However, many attendees at the meeting questioned the legitimacy of such selection procedures.

The bureau’s selection measure is diametrically opposed to its plan to localize foreign techniques of wind farm construction, Wpd Taiwan Energy Co Ltd (達德能源) chairperson Yuni Wang (王雲怡) said.

The company plans to build a wind farm off the coast of Yunlin County and its project has passed the EPA’s initial review last month.

As the bureau is to start its first-stage selection process in the first or second quarter of next year, it is almost impossible for developers to make promises about how they would localize techniques before that time, Wang said.

Developers should be allowed to make those promises until the bureau gives them final construction approvals, she added.

Developers of projects that have passed the EPA’s initial reviews can be said to have secured “commanding points,” said Kao Ming-chih (高銘志), associate professor at the Institute of Law for Science and Technology at National Tsing Hua University.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is losing its edge in negotiating with the developers, because it did not expect the EPA would give them initial approvals in such a short time, Kao said.

The ministry should cancel its second selection that is based on bidding price, or it might violate the principle of “legitimate expectation” and infringe on the rights of earlier wind farm developers, he said.

Developers are likely to seek compensation from the nation if the ministry fails to give them construction approvals through convincing procedures, Kao said.

The ministry should clarify the “legal basis” of the selection process and establish a special committee for the process, said Lin Jui-chu (林瑞珠), director of the Law and Technology Innovation Center at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

Although the government has signed many memorandums of understanding with foreign energy developers, they do not legally bind the signatories, Lin said, adding that the government should sign formal contracts with the developers.

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