On Jan. 23, Google announced that it would purchase the output of a 10 megawatt solar array in southern Taiwan — the company’s first renewable energy deal in Asia. The company should be congratulated for moving toward its mission to use 100 percent renewable energy in Taiwan and help with turning the nation into an example for the Asian renewable energy market.
By purchasing renewable energy, enterprises can help meet greenhouse-gas reduction goals and lower the risks posed by conventional power price fluctuations.
Internationally, enterprises mainly buy renewable energy through power purchase agreements bundled with certificates or by directly buying renewable energy certificates (REC) to fulfill their commitment to run their businesses on renewable energy.
A 2017 amendment to the Electricity Act (電業法) added the terms “renewable energy-based electricity generating enterprises” and “green energy-based electricity retailing enterprises,” opening “direct supply” and “wheeling” of green power, which permitted non-utility companies to directly buy renewable energy via green energy-based electricity retailers.
In October of the same year, the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, promulgated the Implementation Regulations Governing Voluntary Renewable Energy Certificates (自願性再生能源憑證實施辦法) to build an REC system in Taiwan.
Local enterprises can obtain renewable energy certificates through free trade in green power via these channels so that they can fulfill their commitments or meet demands made during environmental impact assessments.
The certificates, known as Taiwan-RECs, are applicable to greenhouse gas inventories, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and domestic and international corporate social responsibility reports, such as the one conducted annually by Global Views Monthly.
An analysis of information about the participants in local renewable energy certificate trading and the past green power purchase mechanism shows that demand for renewable energy is highest in the computer and telecommunications industries, electronics manufacturing, and the financial and insurance sectors.
Take Apple’s information and telecommunications supply chain for example: Guided by its commitment to gradually switch to 100 percent renewable energy, all the businesses in its supply chain might feel pressure to use green energy.
Due to a trend in international finance toward socially responsible or sustainable investments, the financial and insurance sectors have also started to increase the percentage of renewable energy they use to build a positive image. These sectors are all potential clients that might take part in domestic voluntary renewable energy trading.
Google’s proposed renewable energy purchase in Taiwan represents recognition not only of the nation’s renewable energy use, but also of the government’s green power policy and trade system. In addition to Google, Facebook’s data center in Singapore also plans to power its operations with 100 percent renewable energy.
Taiwan’s experience in developing a local renewable energy trade system could serve as a reference for other Asian countries.
As the world moves toward more renewable energy use, a renewable energy market has taken shape in Taiwan. Are local enterprises ready to follow this new trend?
Chen Yen-haw is the deputy director of Research Division 1 at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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