On Wednesday last week, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) announced that it would sign a 20-year contract with Orsted Taiwan to purchase all the electricity generated by its offshore wind farms, which are to have a total capacity of 920 megawatts (MW) after commercial operations start in 2025 or 2026.
The deal is not only a response to Apple’s requirement that its whole supply chain rely completely on renewable energy, it also shows that businesses are capable of bearing the cost of renewable energy, and that they can take the social and environmental responsibilities as large consumers of electricity.
According to Greenpeace, TSMC’s annual electricity consumption accounts for 4.8 percent of the nation’s total power consumption, exceeding that of Taipei.
When TSMC starts commercial production of its 3 nanometer chips in 2022, its annual power consumption is expected to rise to 7.2 percent of the nation’s total consumption, making it Taiwan’s No.1 energy consumer.
Should TSMC switch to renewable energy, it could save the public NT$2.8 billion (US$94.41 million) of potential annual health costs caused by power plant emissions.
Greenpeace is happy to see that TSMC in its latest corporate social responsibility report announced a goal to increase the use of renewable energy to 25 percent of its overall electricity consumption by 2030. This effort would help alleviate the environmental and health damages caused by “gray” electricity.
Last year, TSMC and nine other Taiwanese enterprises joined Apple’s Supplier Clean Energy Program, promising that they will use 100 percent renewable energy for the production of Apple products.
Google and other global enterprises have also expanded their renewable energy policies to their supply chains.
Taiwanese businesses can no longer turn a blind eye to this trend, as renewable energy has become a necessity for businesses that endeavor to maintain their global competitiveness.
Compared with TSMC and its response to its clients’ requirements, many local industry groups — including the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI) and Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC) — take high cost and insufficient time as excuses to shirk their responsibility for purchasing green energy and installing the necessary facilities.
The CNFI and CNAIC are even calling on the government to postpone the implementation of Article 12 of the Renewable Energy Development Act (再生能源發展條例). Known as the “large electricity consumer clause,” the article regulates users whose electricity consumption exceeds a certain amount and requires that they take steps toward a greener balance of energy consumption.
Having analyzed data from the 2018 financial reports released by the leading companies in Taiwan’s four major industrial categories — electronics, petrochemical, steel and cement — Greenpeace found that as little as a 0.02 percent increase in costs would have been sufficient to meet the demands stipulated in the act.
Switching to green energy would not lead to the demise of businesses in these industries.
Electricity generation to meet consumption demand is the primary source of carbon emissions in Taiwan. There is still a long way to go before the nation reaches its goal, reducing emissions that — if other nations follow suit — would allow for the worldwide temperature increase to stay below the internationally agreed threshold of 1.5°C.
If the largest electricity users — which together consume half of Taiwan’s electricity — remain reluctant to switch to renewable energy and continue to ask the government to postpone the implementation of the Renewable Energy Development Act, they will slow the nation’s efforts to curb emissions, not to mention its contribution to reaching of the global goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Alynne Tsai is the distinguished director of Greenpeace Taiwan’s Energy Project Campaign
Translated by Chang Ho-ming
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