Taiwan unveils energy policy and future development
Taiwan is a beautiful nation with an amazing cultural and geographical environment, but it lacks sufficient natural resources. Ever since the 1960-70 era of industrial advancement, Taiwan’s economy has grown rapidly and a great amount of imported energy resources was required to maintain the growing economy. In order to provide the needed energy, the energy policy in the early days focused on security issues and sufficient supply. The policy helped build a complete and healthy demand/supply system for Taiwan, contributed to stable prices and played a crucial role in boosting the economic growth of the time.
As concerns over environmental issues continue to develop, an equivalent concern is growing over climate change problems caused by the greenhouse gas effect. In 1998, The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) signed the Kyoto Protocol, which listed the goals designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a small country with a dense population, Taiwan still relies heavily on traditional fossil fuel to support its economic development. Until 1997, Taiwan’s CO2 emissions had already reached over 170 million tons. Facing the Kyoto Protocol challenge, although Taiwan is not involved as a party, the country has still chosen to take on the responsibility as a member of the global village and voluntarily revises its energy policy to further the objective of pursuing a sustainable environment while preserving economic growth.
The Executive Yuan passed the Sustainable Energy Policy Framework (永續能源政策綱領) in June 2008. The framework consists of objectives such as “increase energy efficiency: increase more than 2 percent of energy efficiency every year for eight consecutive years,” and “develop clean energy: decrease CO2 emissions throughout the whole nation with the goal to have the emissions of 2008 in 2016 to 2020 and the emissions of 2000 in 2025.” These aims represent a hope of detaching economic growth from the boosting of greenhouse gas emissions. These initiatives further aim to create a low-carbon economy and to foster a sustainable environment. Taiwan’s energy policy has thus been altered to place emphasis on sustainable energy as its main policy.
Energy Development Guideline and Guidelines of National Energy Policy
To achieve a balanced development of “3E,” namely energy, economy and environment, Taiwan passed the modified articles of the Energy Management Act (能源管理法) in 2009. The articles declare that in consideration of the changing conditions of domestic and international energy conditions, Taiwan’s energy security and people’s basic needs regarding livelihood must be ensured amid endeavors toward environmental protection and economic development. In addition, in order to ensure social and cross-generational justice, an Energy Development Guideline was established in 2012. This was the first guideline on energy policy to be authorized under Taiwan law, establishing structured energy development guidelines and principles that are considered the basic norms for all measures promoted by every government department.
The Energy Development Guideline covers three main policy principles, namely security, efficiency and eco-friendliness. First, it puts emphasis on the stability of energy suppliers and origins. In addition to a balanced supply and demand of energy, normal operations and complete risk management for the system are also required. Secondly, the framework was designed to strengthen energy-use management and to bolster energy transformation, distribution and usage efficiency, which can provide added value to energy consumption. Thirdly, by developing low-carbon energy and through the use of low-carbon technology, the framework can help reduce the environmental impact that comes from energy development.
Promotional aspects of the framework include demand-end, supply-end and system-end. The demand-end’s main focus is on periodical and regional cap and trade as well as enhancements of departmental energy usage efficiency. Reasonable energy use and energy saving is being promoted to reduce the trend of growing demand. Due to a dwindling energy supply and the continuous increase of demand, developing alternative methods of energy independence and realizing a stabilized energy supply have become the main focus. Hence, improvements on energy structure as well as diversified energy sources have both been accentuated. Moreover, considering the importance of the energy demand-supply balance as well as overall efficiency enhancement, system-end thinking is incorporated into the framework to facilitate promotion and acceleration toward the nation’s ultimate goals.
The idea of sustainable energy still needs to be incorporated via political measures at all levels of government, therefore two sets of mechanism packages have been designed to complement one another. According to the new plan, low-carbon measures and legal support mechanisms are based on an effective legal infrastructure, and energy conservation should be taken into account in the nation’s administrative plans, infrastructure establishments and industry development. As for the response mechanism and risk management mechanisms, both are designed to ensure the continuous operation of the nation’s energy system, while at the same time taking into account issues of supply and demand, as well as price fluctuations.
A Solid Policy in Gradual Nuclear Reduction with the Establishment of a Nuclear-free
Nation as the Ultimate Goal
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster focused the nation’s attention toward subjects relating to nuclear energy. As a result, following a complete review of the nation’s nuclear energy policies, the government released a new energy development goal to guarantee nuclear safety, promote a consistent decrease in nuclear dependency and establish green energy and low-carbon environments, all of which are tailored toward the goal of a nuclear-free homeland. The objectives seek to actively fulfill various carbon-emission and electricity provision targets under the three principles of ensuring adequate electricity supply, sustaining reasonable prices of electricity and fulfilling the terms of the international carbon emissions pact.
The policy of gradual nuclear reduction is primarily based on the principle of nuclear safety, and has since advanced various aforementioned objectives such as the Establishment of Green Energy and Low Carbon Environments program that gradually lowers the nuclear dependency of the entire nation. The initiative includes a program that aims to meet demand requirements while adhering to the concepts of energy conservation and the reduction of the nation’s dependence on electricity. The program designed to maintain adequate power supply is governed by the concept of low-carbon energy development in order to promote renewable energy, steady electricity production and the reduction of carbon emissions.
The government also currently advocates various implemented and completed objectives such as the promotion of energy conservation lifestyles, the establishment of the Four Savings Program, cooperation with the central government to advance smart electricity conservation, the transformation of Penghu into a low-carbon-emission island, the installation of millions of solar panel roofs and the construction of over a thousand wind turbines, so as to create beneficial non-nuclear qualifications to gradually achieve the ambition of a nuclear-free homeland.
Under the government’s active promotion of various initiatives, the nation’s low-carbon-emission energy sources (gas and renewable energy) have increased their share of the nation’s electricity production percentage from 16.5 percent in 2003 to 31.1 percent in 2014. Since the launch of the Renewable Energy Development Act, the volume of photovoltaic devices has had an exponential 65-fold increase from 9.5MW in 2009 to 615.2MW in 2014.
The volume of wind turbine devices has also increased by a factor of 1.7, from 374.3 MW to 637.2 MW. In the case of electricity depletion suppression, the nation accomplished the task of replacing the country’s 696,700 traffic light bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED) in 2011, becoming the second country in the world to completely adopt the use of LEDs for the nation’s traffic lights. The government has also advanced the mercury-vapor lamp retirement plan that seeks to replace all 692,000 of the nation’s streetlights with LEDs by 2016, which would allow Taiwan to become the first country to completely retire the use of mercury-vapor lamps.
However, a nuclear-free homeland is not a destination easily reached with a simple leap, but one that is dictated by the maturity of objective and subjective circum- stances. Due to such considerations, the government has set up review mechanisms to evaluate the development progress of energy technology, the execution and the result of nuclear and carbon-emission decrease programs as well as the current level of carbon-emission control. The mechanisms will also review the timetable of nuclear power decrease every four years, which will evaluate the nation’s level of nuclear dependency so that a practical approach to lead Taiwan toward becoming a nuclear-free nation can be adopted.
Conversion to Green Energy to Vitalize
Future Economic Development
In light of the global trend toward carbon-emissions reduction, and in an effort to reduce carbon emissions produced from the burning of fossil fuels, Taiwan has already begun to actively advocate renewable energy, which will furthermore drive the progress of various industries, as well as vitalize the continued advancement of the entire nation. The implementation of the Renewable Energy Development Act on July 8, 2009 was a firm foundation that paved the way for the future of the renewable energy industry. The act has decreed that the capacity target for industrial renewable energy equipment that would garner rewards from the government is between 6.5 million kW to 10 million kW.
The act has jumpstarted the potential of the renewable energy industry in Taiwan, and has since garnered interest from investors in the local renewable energy industry. In hopes of further refining the dominance of renewable energy in Taiwan, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) conduced two reviews and amendments to policies so that in January of 2014, the renewable energy target for 2030 was increased to 13,750 MW, which is a 26.6-percent rise from the 10,858 MW goal of 2010.
While advocating for renewable energy and the implementation of various energy conservation policies, the government has also advanced the development of the green energy industry. In April of 2009, the MOEA introduced the Green Energy Industry Development Program to lead the nation toward green energy progress through technical refinement, key financial investments, environmental engineering, export expansion and the advancement of local sales strategies. The entire value the green energy industry in 2014 was calculated at NT$484.4 billion, which is twice the value compared to before the green initiative was advocated in 2008.
Taiwan’s product yield of solar batteries is currently ranked second globally, with LED materials ranked third in the world, and LED panels ranked second when taking quality into account.
The Executive Yuan in 2014 gave its approval to the green energy plan, which aims to consolidate national resources and push forward Taiwan’s green sectors, such as solar power, wind turbine power, LED luminance and energy communications industries. The government has also used its resources to promote the aforementioned industries through the conversion to high-value service developments, the expansion of overseas sales and the speedy establishment of global windows to create a solid mechanism for Taiwan’s green energy industries. The implementation of the programs would likely elevate Taiwan’s green energy manufacturers to achieve a market value of NT$1 trillion by 2020, as well as make 100,000 job opportunities available within the nation.
One Mechanism, Two Methods of Energy Conservation, Three Forms of Energy Renewal
In the face pressure due to the annual increase in electricity demand, a more diverse energy policy is currently needed. To solidify diverse, practical and long-term energy development, the MOEA’s Bureau of Energy proposed the so-called One Mechanism, Two Ways of Energy Conservation, Three Forms of Energy Renewal policy goal. The “One Mechanism” refers to a market mechanism that values transparency and openness, so that a just, objective and sustainable market management mechanism may be constructed, with the goal of advancing the quality of Taiwan’s energy provision. The mechanism could also serve as a basis for future discussions on green energy adoption and nuclear energy abolishment.
The “Two Methods of Energy Conservation” pertains to a 2-percent decrease in national electricity consumption, as well as energy conservation enforcement over Taiwan’s six most energy-consuming industries, which are the cement, steel, paper making, electronics and textile industries. The Nationwide Electricity Conservation Program adopted by the government currently seeks to reduce national electricity use by 1 percent in the following year.
As such, the 2-percent goal of the “Two Methods of Energy Conservation” further proves the determination of the government. The program advocates personal benefits from electricity conservation, converting words into action so that the central government may work closely with local governments to instill positive energy conservation habits to suppress and lower the increase in electricity usage.
The “Three Forms of Energy Renewal” targets the establishment and advancement of renewable energy, such as the promotion of photovoltaic energy sources, stimulation of geothermal power production and wind turbine energy generation. The government has planned to increase the promotion of the volume of photovoltaic energy devices this year from 270 MW to 500 MW, as well as implement an increase of the budget for such promotions from NT$4.6 billion to NT$5.3 billion.
Looking back at the road of Taiwan’s energy policy development, several challenges posed by international and national difficulties can be observed. However, such difficulties were overcome more than once thanks to the solid energy programs and consistent pricing of energy resources. Taiwan will have to face more hardships in energy development in the future, but under the concerted effort of the entire nation, Taiwan will prevail and construct a solid foundation in steady energy conservation development, through diverse development, nationwide conservation efforts, and the construction of a more efficient
energy usage mechanism.
(Left) The inauguration of Asia Museum of Modern Art initiates the examination (Right) The Sunflower Independent Solar Power System consists of six polysilicon solar panels with a total capacity of 680W. Annual power generated by the system is around 868kWh, which can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 552 kilograms.
From front row fifth left, Huang Hung-lin, vice president of Taiwan Power Company, Wu Chin-shan, director general of the K-12 Education Administration, Ministry of Education, Cho Shih-chao, former deputy economics minister, Wang Yunn-ming, director-general of the Bureau of Energy and Hu Yie-zu, director of ITRI’s Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories, pose for a photo at an energy conservation award ceremony last year.
The geothermal power plant in Chingshui, Yilan is also one of the measures taken to achieve sustainable energy.