Wed, Jan 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Energy sector needs independence

SLUGGISH TRANSITION:Changing to renewable energy sources has been slow because Taipower has to approve the transfer of generated power to its grid for distribution

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s electricity sector can only be liberalized if its power generation, transmission and distribution systems are divided into independent entities, experts said at a forum in Taipei yesterday.

The forum was organized by the Japan-Taiwan Electricity Reform Research Society, environmental group Mom Loves Taiwan and the Humanistic Education Foundation.

State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) should sell and make independent its department that governs power transmission and distribution, Tsuru University professor Hiroshi Takahashi said.

If the systems were governed by independently operated companies, they would seek collaboration with more energy developers and treat them fairly as clients, which is beneficial for the nation’s energy transformation, he said, citing observations from Europe.

The utility might be reluctant to promote the development of renewable power, because it intends to maintain its dominance over traditional power sources such as coal-fired and nuclear power generation, he said.

Independent electricity grids can help stabilize the electricity generated from solar and wind power if it is transmitted to wider areas, he added.

Although the government in January last year passed an amendment to the Electricity Act (電業法), it did not want to promote the sector’s liberalization, given that the change allowed Taipower to continue monopolizing electricity systems until 2025, society chairperson Chen Hong-mei (陳弘美) said.

The nation’s development of renewable energy is sluggish, because energy developers are required to obtain Taipower’s approval to have their power transmitted to its grid, Chen said.

“The Democratic Progressive Party has lost its opportunity to reform the electricity sector,” considering the amendment only catered to the needs of pro-nuclear Taipower, said former Taipower board member Wang Tu-far (王塗發), who is now a professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Economics.

Power grids should be regarded as a part of the nation’s public infrastructure that invites investment from different sources, he said.

The force opposed to energy reform is often stronger than that which supports reform, which is why the electricity sector cannot become truly liberalized, said Kimmie Wang (王京明), researcher at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research.

The nation’s development of renewable energy has attracted many foreign energy developers, because they do not have to be involved in price-bidding like in Europe, he said.

After signing a 20-year contract with Taipower, developers can sell their electricity to the utility at set prices for two decades, which is why the nation’s electricity is expected to become more expensive in the near future, Wang said.

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