Taiwan has been setting discrete goals regarding renewable energy installation every year in order to have renewable energies account for 20% of the island’s total electricity supply in 2025. Thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, however, Taiwan will find it difficult to achieve its goal of 12% this year, as renewable energy current accounts for only 5.5% of Taiwan’s electricity supply.
During a recent hearing in Taiwan’s legislative assembly (called the Legislative “Yuan” in the domestic tongue), certain members indicated that Taiwan’s green energy installation is falling 6.5% far short of its goal of 12% of total electricity generation, given that the island has achieved only 5.5% across the January-August period. In response, the MOEA (Ministry of Economic Affairs) stated two reasons for the failing.
First of all, thanks to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, capacity installations in certain renewable energy projects have suffered significant delays. In addition, extreme weathers have resulted in insufficient water supply in 1H21, resulting in reduced electricity generation from existing hydroelectric generators and lower-than-expected electricity generation in January-August this year. In particular, grid connections for Taipower’s Offshore Wind Farm Project – Phase 1, which were originally set to take place in 2020, have now been deferred, while the Formosa 2 and OWF Yunlin wind farms have both suffered from the pandemic as well as border restrictions and are expected to wrap up construction in 2022.
Installations of PV panels have been adversely affected by the pandemic as well. According to the MOEA, the continued surge of COVID-19 worldwide not only resulted in price hikes for various raw materials, but also compelled Taiwan to raise its epidemic alert level from level one to level three, subsequently leading to a shortage of labor and materials for various domestic PV projects this year. As of September, total installed PV capacity in Taiwan reached 6.92GW, which represents a 454% increase compared to late-2016 levels but a shortage of 1.83GW compared to this year’s goal of 8.75GW. The MOEA has confirmed installation projects that total 1.92GW in capacity – all of which are currently underway at full throttle. Some of these major projects that are underway on schedule include Chiayi’s aquavoltaic project, Tainan’s Yianshuei project, Pingtung’s Gaoshu project, and the MOEA IDB’s Taisi project.
Secondly, because Taiwan’s economy has been persistently great, the DGBAS forecasts an economy growth rate of 5.88% for Taiwan this year. Furthermore, WFH volumes have risen considerably as a result of the pandemic. These two factors have had their consequences reflected on the increased demand for electricity in Taiwan, with a 4.2% increase in electricity demand across the January-August period – a significant growth over the average 1.3% increase for the same period over the past decade. That is why the proportion of green energy as part of Taiwan’s total supply of electricity has been diluted somewhat.
The MOEA expects green energy to account for more of Taiwan’s total electricity generation by the end of the year compared to the January-August period because of several factors. First, of all, the improved water supply situation in 2H21 will result in a corresponding recovery in hydroelectric power. Second of all, large-scale green energy projects, such as the Changhua portions of the Offshore Wind Farm Project - Phase I and TCC’s aquavoltaic project in Chiayi are expected to be finalized and connected to the electrical grid.