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Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs Expects the Domestic Green Energy Sector to Generate 32,000 New Jobs

published: 2018-01-10 15:38

To dispel skepticisms on the “5+2 Innovative Industries” strategy (also known as the “5+2 Plan”) and the latest renewable energy initiatives, Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy (BOE) released a press release on 7 January to explain the government’s progress. BOE’s statement emphasizes that the government is taking concrete actions to make its rhetoric into reality, as seen in implementation of the “Two-Year Solar Promotion Plan,” the “Green Energy Roofs Project,” and the “Four-Year Wind Power Promotion Plan.” BOE’s statement also asserts that the green energy sector is the engine that will be powering the transformation of Taiwan’s manufacturing and service sectors under the 5+2 Plan. BOE, which is an administrative agency of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), predicts that the island in the future will become a major green energy service hub that connects Asia to the international market.

Since Taiwan imports 98% of its energy needs and has an independent grid system, the government must pursue energy self-sufficiency and diversification of the island’s energy portfolio. The renewable energy initiatives – including those under the 5+2 Plan – are steps to realize these goals and take advantage of the current worldwide transition towards a greener economy. These initiatives furthermore are based on the action plan passed by the government’s Executive Yuan on 27 October 2016. The action plan calls for increasing the share of renewable energies in the island’s energy mix to 20% in 2025. To fulfill this target, the government of Taiwan will support the growth of domestic demand for renewable energies. A healthy and growing domestic market for renewable energies in turn will attract large-scale domestic and foreign investments as well as expanding employment opportunities.

BOE’s statement describes the approach to developing Taiwan’s green energy sector as integrated with focuses on energy generation, energy conservation, and energy storage. The development of the green energy infrastructure will proceed together with the promotion of renewable energies. The government moreover encourages cooperation between domestic and foreign companies in areas such as power generation, distribution, and consumption. With practical expertise from foreign markets, Taiwan’s green energy sector will be able to develop solutions for end systems, industry applications, and the wider environment.

According to the press release, the target of supplying 20% of Taiwan’s energy needs with renewable generation by 2025 will generate 32,000 new jobs between 2016 and 2025. During the same period, investments in the domestic green energy sector is forecast to reach a cumulative total of TWD 1.8175 trillion.

In terms of the overall progress, BOE through the press release reports that the local and central governments are marshalling resources and coordinating actions to expand the installation of solar PV systems in accordance with the Two-Year Solar Promotion Plan and the Green Energy Roofs Project. With the combined efforts from all levels, Taiwan’s solar PV capacity will likely reach 3 gigawatts in 2020 – five years ahead of the original target. Furthermore, the government of Taiwan is in the process of setting up a window agency for processing solar project applications and related inquiries. The Energy and Carbon Reduction Office, which was established by the Executive Yuan in 2016, is presently responsible for coordinating various government departments and expediting administrative works related to renewable energy projects. Going forward, there will be a fully developed window agency that also serves as an information and referral platform assisting individuals, businesses, and government. Such an agency will be dealing with applications for solar projects and other related issues (e.g. regulations, taxes, technical matters, and etc.).

BOE’s statement points out that different ministries and agencies have already come to agreements on how to resolve some of the main obstacles to developing solar PV in Taiwan. With regard to the land use conflict, the government has now made more than 25,000 hectares of agricultural and public land available for solar projects that will be commissioned within the medium and long term. Local governments have also been asked to streamline the application process for solar projects that are under 500 kilowatts in scale. As for feed-in tariff, Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) has developed a 10-year plan to effectively incorporate solar energy into the island’s grid.

With regard to the development of offshore wind farms, BOE’s press release says that the government of Taiwan will take a gradual, phased approach. Project developers will first set up demonstration wind turbines in selected coastal areas. After these turbines have shown their generation potentials, project developers will then be permitted to take over the designated coastal sections for their wind farms. Based on this approach, Taiwan aims to raise its cumulative offshore wind capacity to 520 megawatts in 2020 and then to 3000 megawatts in 2025. BOE believes that Taiwan’s offshore wind power market will see more domestic and foreign investments in the future as it continues to grow steadily. Additionally, involvement of major multinational groups in the building of wind turbines near the island’s shores will also introduce foreign expertise into the domestic wind industry. On the whole, the government’s support for offshore wind farm will allow domestic suppliers to gain onsite experience and technical capabilities.

According to BOE, forming a local supply chain of offshore wind turbines will have a positive transformational effect on numerous industries in Taiwan. The domestic manufacturing sector will obtain know-how on underwater construction, installation of turbine towers, and building of offshore generation infrastructure. The domestic service sector on the hand can use the wind power market to develop high-value businesses such as engineering consultancy, maritime services, and financial planning for renewable energy projects.

BOE reports that China Steel Corp. (CSC) and CSBC Corp., which are respectively Taiwan’s domestic steel manufacturer and ship builder, have formed two separate industry alliances to bring wind power technologies from abroad. CSC leads the “Wind Team” that is composed of 16 domestic manufacturers, while CSBC leads the “Marine Team” that is made up of 20 domestic firms specializing in marine engineering. The Wind Team is interested in supplying parts for wind turbines, whereas the Marine Team is interested in having its members jointly acquire crane vessels and win bids for building offshore wind farms. Both alliances have been formed in response to government’s policies and are seeking opportunities in the huge market of wind power generation and its affiliated services.

BOE in its press release says that the growth of the green energy sector is a future trend in the global economy and will bring enormous opportunities for Taiwan. The island therefore has to effectively utilize its niche advantages in solar PV and offshore wind generation to build up an internal market for renewable energies. The latest initiatives from the government are expected to create sufficient domestic demand so that the renewable industries at home will later have the resources to innovate and become more competitive. This strategy of supporting gradual and steady expansion of the green energy sector ultimately will ensure energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability for the island.

(The following article is based on the content of the press release issued by Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy on 7 January 2018. The photo at the top of the article comes from Pixabay.)

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