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Taiwan’s Solar Power Grows Ninefold in 10 Years, Becomes Second Largest Source of Green Energy

published: 2019-12-25 0:30

Solar installations are on the rise in Taiwan. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, for the past 10 years, solar energy has grown by an average of 89.6% per year. It became a major source of green energy in the first 10 months of this year with 3.42 billion kWh generated, accounting for 26.3% of total green energy and taking second place only to hydropower.

According to the Ministry, the cumulative renewable energy generation in the first 10 months of 2019 reached 13.01 billion kWh, accounting for 5.6% of total electricity generation. Of this renewable energy, 39.3% came from conventional hydropower (non-pumped-storage hydropower), which reached 5.12 billion kWh. Solar power took second place for the first time, with 3.42 billion kWh generated, good for 26.3%. Waste-to-energy and wind power, ranked third and fourth respectively, produced 3.02 billion (23.2%) and 1.31 billion kWh of energy. Biomass energy (which includes geothermal energy) produced 140 million kWh.

For the past few years, electricity generation from green energy has steadily risen. Between 2008 and 2018, renewal energy grew an average of 4.3% each year, with the two primary drivers of development, solar power and wind power, each growing an average of 89.6% and 11.1% each year. However, wind energy has yet to become a chief source of electricity generation, unlike solar power and conventional hydropower.

According to the Ministry, the push for green energy has historically been a slow process, with hydropower accounting for a high proportion of renewable energy. But hydropower faces the drawback of low power production during dry seasons. This is why, despite the growth of solar installations and solar energy output in 2017 and 2018, the share of green energy in total electricity generation dropped compared to 2016. However, solar installation has grown 3.1 times. As the first offshore wind farm commenced operation, the share of green energy by way of wind power and hydropower has grown as well.

With more and more solar installations being built, the cumulative solar capacity added in the first 10 months of 2019 reached 1.16 billion kWh, while conventional hydropower occupied the second place, reaching 1.15 billion kWh thanks to increased rainfall. Together, solar and hydro accounted for 97% of the growth of electricity generation, with solar installations showing the most growth at 51.7%. The 3.42 billion kWh of added solar capacity within the first 10 months of 2019 exceeded that of 2018, which is 2.74 billion kWh.

The number of solar installations is projected to rise in the future; case in point, approved applications for solar installation permits reached 1,340MW, an increase of 27.9% YoY, which is 292MW. The South serves as Taiwan’s hotbed of solar energy development, with 320MW of newly approved installations in Tainan, which is 23.9% of newly approved installation capacity in Taiwan, and 263MW in Changhua County, which is responsible for another 19.6%.

Solar module manufacturer TSEC also announced at the end of October that it had obtained an order for 180MW of PV modules from a subsidiary of an unnamed international energy development fund, with an expected shipment date of early 2020. URE also announced in early December that it had acquired an order for 193MW of modules to build a solar farm on non-arable lands in Tainan. The modules are project to begin shipment in 1H20 as construction progresses. Once built, the solar farm will be the largest in Taiwan and supply electricity to 60,000 households each year.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the green energy technology demonstration site, located in the Tainan-based Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City, also took place on the 16th.

However, in terms of the magnitude of expansion, Taipower’s coastal PV plant located in Changhua County, the largest PV plant in Taiwan, takes the lead with a 1.6x growth. Taipower states that, since its inception in October 2019, the coastal PV plant has generated 117 million kWh of electricity, with an expected annual output of 140 million kWh – enough power for about 40,000 households each year.

The advent of solar installations and offshore wind farms is expected to spur the growth of renewable energy in 2020. As well, the first offshore wind farm in Taiwan, based out of the Miaoli coastline and aptly named the Formosa One, began operations in October. The commercialization of Formosa One is projected to take place by the end of the year.

(Image: Flickr/BlackRockSolar CC BY 2.0)

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