Taiwan is dependent upon imported fossil fuels for over 90% of its energy generation. However driven by a commitment to sustainable development, the island state has made remarkable strides in the field of alternative and renewable energy generation, placing it in the forefront of change in Asia. Mika Sahlström, Asian Insiders partner explores Taiwan’s drive for renewable energy.
The Renewable Energy Development Act of 2009 established a comprehensive legal framework to support the growth of renewable energy sources. The Act introduced feed-in tariffs, tax incentives and subsidies to promote investments in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. The government also intends to phase out nuclear power, currently responsible for around 9% of energy production, by 2025 while bringing the contribution of renewable generation to 20% by the same time, up from around 10% at present. A further ambitious target has been set at 50% alternative energy production by 2030, attracting significant medium-term investment.
Taiwan’s ‘Aim for the Top University Project’, stimulating innovation, internationalisation and opportunity between academics, government officials and industry leaders has led directly to the development of cutting edge research in renewable energy technologies, including photovoltaic technology and increased solar panel efficiency. The country is also home to the Green Energy Technology Research Centre, which conducts cutting-edge research and development in renewable energy technologies.
The Green Bond system has been helping Taiwanese business raise funds for their environmentally friendly projects, supporting initiatives in climate change, renewables, environmental protection and carbon reduction. Meanwhile, the total level of support from the government is upwards of USD 1 trillion over the next few years, ensuring that Taiwan will soon be one of Asia’s ‘greenest’ economies.
Taiwan’s coastal geography and strong wind resources makes it ideal for the development of offshore wind power. The government’s commitment to this sector has resulted in several significant projects, including the Formosa 1 offshore wind farm, commencing operations in 2019. With a capacity of 128 MW, it was Taiwan’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, involving collaboration with several financial and technical international partners. The latest completed project, Taiwan’s third, Formosa 2 has just recently completed construction of 47 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 376 MW, able to supply 380,000 homes annually. Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has recently awarded capacity to seven further offshore wind farms to to add a further 3GW capacity, due to come online by 2026-2027.
The solar power sector has also witnessed significant growth with stimulated investment in solar energy, leading to the establishment of multiple solar farms and large-scale rooftop installations. Further, efforts to encourage feed-in tariffs and net-metering programs have led to wide-scale adoption of solar energy systems by households and businesses. Taiwan’s solar power capacity has grown substantially, and the country aims to achieve 20 GW of installed solar capacity by 2025. Of significance in this development is that while many of the partnerships to construct and operate these plants are international – IP and finance – the supply chains are almost entirely domestic. The Taiwan market for solar and renewable technologies is mature and complete.
Approximately 80% of large-scale livestock operations in Taiwan have an installed biogas system, that converts agricultural waste into electricity and heat. While no major innovations are planned in this sector, the degree of uptake by Taiwan’s farmers is an example of the degree of commitment.
The first large hydro power plant was built in 1905, under Japanese rule at the time, however environmental concerns have limited the construction of further large-scale hydro plants, however some smaller stations have been installed. At present, Taiwan generates roughly 5,000 MW of hydro power with around half of this coming from pumped-storage hydroelectricity.
Until recently, largely ignored in Taiwan, however studies have shown that the country, located along the seismically active ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ offers considerable potential – up to 32GW. However plans at present allows only up to 200 MW capacity in place by 2025, less than 1% of the total renewable power target. The reason for this have to do with complexities around land ownership and the lack of clear governance around ownership of the resource once discovered.
Taiwan, as an island state offers considerable opportunity for ocean energy. According to the scientific publication, World Ocean Review, the turbulence of the worlds oceans offers 300 times more energy than humans are currently consuming. However the array of technologies currently under development to tap this energy is still in its infancy, with no cost-effective solution yet in sight.
Taiwan’s drive for renewable energy reflects a serious commitment, both in policy initiatives and financial backing towards the future of the state. There are challenges yet to overcome – high upfront costs, energy intermittency and the need for more storage capacity however, a public policy approach allows businesses and the population to largely support this drive. The reduction in dependence on imported energy is leading towards lower energy costs and greater employment opportunities on the island, further stimulating an already buoyant economy.
The government’s progressive policies, commitment to renewable energy, and investments in wind and solar power have positioned the country as a regional leader in the transition to a greener and more sustainable future. As Taiwan strives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and achieve its ambitious renewable energy targets, continued research, innovation, and international collaboration are playing crucial roles in shaping the future of the alternative energy sector in this dynamic nation.
Taiwan’s drive for renewable energy offers major opportunities for international companies looking to take advantage of a large, open market across a wide field of related technologies and services. For a no-obligation call, please contact Jari Hietala, Managing Partner: jari.hietala(at)asianinsiders.com or Mika Sahlström, Taiwan Partner: mika.sahlstrom(at)asianinsiders.com