This year’s Energy Taiwan, which is a major trade show for renewable energies in the region, is taking place at Hall 1 of Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center and will last three days from October 14 to 16. The exhibitions and activities of the event revolve around domestic energy policies, renewable sector, and business electricity usage. The event also highlights the growing importance of energy storage technologies in the development of renewable generation and power consumption.
At the opening press conference of the event, Tseng Wen-sheng, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, told attending reporters that the domestic demand for renewable energies is enormous. The island’s highly prized semiconductor industry, in particular, is raising the procurement of renewable electricity in order to satisfy its high level of consumption. Tseng added that as the deployment of renewable generation systems continues to expand, dispatching and using the growing supply of renewable electricity will be a new and urgent task for the island’s grid system.
Energy Taiwan 2020 is jointly organized by SEMI and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Technologies that are being displayed at more than 500 booths in the venue mostly belong to solar PV, wind power, hydrogen power, and smart energy storage (which includes batteries).
Due to travel restrictions caused by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and individuals that originally planned to visit the trade show are now unable to physically attend the event. For them, the event organizers have set up a “virtual procurement hub” where buyers and suppliers can meet via live stream. With this method, foreign buyers can go to any one of TAITRA’s 63 overseas offices to talk to domestic suppliers. The event organizers have also devised a “virtual live tour” so that online attendees can engage with participating companies and their offerings in real time. Explanations of displayed products and services during the virtual live tour are given in English.
BloombergNEF reported in September that solar PV and wind power accounted for about two-thirds of the power generation capacity added worldwide in 2019. The newly added solar PV and wind power capacities in the same year came to 118GW and 60GW respectively. Meanwhile, demand is steadily falling for power generated by traditional thermal power plants that burn fossil fuels.
In Taiwan, installations of PV systems are also rising year after year. Since the mainstream renewable technologies produce power intermittently depending on time and the weather condition, the role of energy storage is becoming increasingly critical. Pan Wen-whe, CEO of Taiwan-based solar firm URE, stated that 2021 will be the “inaugural year” of a boom in the domestic market for energy storage.
As industries and supply chains are mandated to become “greener” in terms of operation, a growing number of global enterprises are joining the RE100 initiative that require them to eventually obtain electricity exclusively from renewable sources. The effect of this development is expected to be felt in many countries later on.
At the opening press conference of Energy Taiwan 2020, Terry Tsao, chief marketing officer of SEMI and president of SEMI Taiwan, said that the rapid growth of the island’s renewable sector is significant in two ways. First, consumers have more opportunities to adopt renewable energies. Second, renewable energies are playing a pivotal role in domestic manufacturing and technological activities, especially pertaining to semiconductor production. The expansion of renewable adoption is thus expected to improve Taiwan’s competitiveness on the global stage.
SEMI Taiwan has recently released a recommendation report on formulating public policies for developing solar PV. Tsao pointed to an updated survey in the report that finds 75% of the public are in favor of energy transition, reflecting an increase of 2.5 percentage points from 2019. Also, nearly 80% of the public are in favor of accelerating the development of the domestic solar sector, up by 1.6 percentage points from 2019.
Regarding the future development of Taiwan’s renewable sector, Tseng emphasized the following three points: First, there ought to be no doubt on Taiwan’s commitment to energy transition, and there is no turning back on this mission. Second, the formation of the domestic renewable sector is driven by rising demand. Third, making further progress will require not just efforts from the government and renewable enterprises but also input from the rest of the technology sector and the public at large. Through transparent discussions and collaborations on open platforms, all stakeholders should be able to come up with more efficient and effective solutions.
On the matter of setting up solar and wind projects, Tseng said that devising intelligent strategies for land use and the application of renewable generation will combine various economic benefits. He noted that while stakeholders have different interests at the outset, a consensus can be reached through communication and negotiation. Renewable projects can be implemented in a practical way that maximizes mutual benefits.
Diversifying Taiwan’s energy mix is a challenging process that requires coordination among government agencies. On July 7, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture issued updated rules for reviewing and approving the conversion of farmlands into sites for new PV power plants. The revised rules are expected to severely limit the development of new projects. Speaking on behalf of domestic solar enterprises, Pan argued that industries, environmental groups, and the government are all supposed to be on the same side when it comes to building PV power plants. The government therefore should be a facilitator rather than an obstruction to project planning. In response to the opposition to the updated rules on land use, the government has been holding weekly interagency meetings that are also attended by solar enterprises and environmental groups.
(Photo credit: TAITRA.)