In the recent years, the government of Taiwan has introduced policies to gradually increase the portion of solar energy in the island’s overall renewable electricity generation. The Two-Year Solar PV Promotion Plan, which was crafted by the Bureau of Energy under Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), calls for an additional installed capacity of 3.7GW between 2019 and 2020. To meet that target, numerous PV power plants are now under construction and will soon be connected to the grid. According to the government-run utility Taipower, PV is expected to account for more than 5% of Taiwan’s total electricity generation during middays of the summer months thanks to the impending completion of several major projects and the favorable weather.
Taiwan has a high level of solar irradiance compared with other countries. At the same time, the overall energy consumption of the island rises dramatically in correlation to the increasing intensity of the sunshine. Solar PV is therefore going to make a significant contribution to Taiwan’s electricity supply during the summer months. Under the Two-Year Plan, the annual increases in installed capacity for 2019 and 2020 are expected to come to 1.5GW and 2.2GW respectively. By the end of the two-year period, Taiwan’s total installed PV capacity will reach 6.5GW. Total PV generation on the island between January and May this year represented a massive growth of 62% compared with the same five-month period last year. Taipower stated that the island’s annual PV generation came to 1.7-1.8GW on average for past few years. As more utility-scale PV systems are being installed and taking advantage of the abundant sunshine, PV generation on the island has already surpassed 2GW so far this year.
June heralded the arrival of summer in Taiwan, and new highs in temperature and electricity usage have been reported across cities and counties. The sunny and scorching weather has also raised the power output of rooftop solar panels and ground-mounted PV systems deployed in different communities. In the recent period, total PV generation in Taiwan during middays has risen above 2.3GW. At the noon of June 17, total PV generation even exceeded the 2.5GW mark and accounted for more than 6% of the island’s total electricity generation.
Although Taiwan still depends on coal and nuclear power for the majority of its electricity supply, total generation of PV systems across the island during recent middays has been staying above the level of 2.3GW. This amount surpasses the generation provided by the two reactor units housed within the Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant (a.k.a. the Second Nuclear Power Plant) located in Wanli District of New Taipei City. Total electricity generation in Taiwan has now reached 37GW, so the share of PV in total generation has also risen to more than 5% and will likely remain so in the foreseeable future.
Taipower has invested NT$9.65 billion into building a 150MW PV power plant on the former salt fields situated between Qigu Distict and Jiangjun District of Tainan City. This PV project is the largest of its kind on the island to date as it covers an area of 214ha, which is equivalent to 300 soccer fields. Out of its total capacity, 40MW already completed grid connection on April 10. The grid connection of the remaining capacity is scheduled for completion by the end of August. Once the plant enters full operation, its annual electricity production can hit a maximum of 200GWh. This amount would be sufficient for the power consumption of 55,000 homes and make a noticeable contribution to the renewable electricity supply for meeting the summer demand.
As for other PV power plants that are now under construction in Taiwan, the 180MW project in Changhua Coastal Industrial Park and another project of the same capacity at a site on the central coast are due for grid connection by 2021. The former is jointly developed by Formosa Renewable Power and Sungen Energy, while the latter is being built by TSEC. On the whole, 2020 and 2021 are expected to be boom years for PV installations in Taiwan. The current progress of the various large-scale solar projects on the island indicates that Taiwan is on track to meet the 2.2GW target set by the MOEA for this year. The vision laid out in the Two-Year plan of achieving a total installed capacity of 6.5GW by the end of the 2019-2020 period will likely be realized as well.
(New source: TechNews. Photo credit: Michael Mees via Flickr CC BY 2.0.)