ECCT shows path to ‘Industrial Energy Efficiency’
The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan’s Low Carbon Initiative has a well- established reputation and excellent relations with a number of government ministries, academic and other prominent institutions
In a few months, world leaders will assemble in Paris — as they did previously in Copenhagen, Kyoto and many other cities — for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With 196 participating parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership like its parent treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was ratified by 192 participants. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
In light of this challenge, Taiwan should continue to improve its environmental policies and practices instead of waiting for other countries to show us the way. By walking its talk on renewable energy, low carbon issues and energy efficiency, Taiwan could become a country others want to follow, a theory put forward by the excellent report released last month by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT, 歐洲在台商務協會).
“The Path to Industrial Energy Efficiency in Taiwan — Partnering with the EU” (提升台灣產業能源效率─與歐盟攜手共進), which is part of the chamber’s Low Carbon Initiative (LCI, 低碳倡議), provides an overview of global energy and climate facts and trends, as well as a summary of policies and practices in Taiwan and the European Union and offers some of the best solutions to improve energy efficiency in the industry from ten of the chamber’s members — ABB, Atlas Copco, BASF, Bosch, Evonik, Grundfos, Schneider, Siemens, STMicroelectronics and TÜV Rheinland.
Largest Consumer of Electricity in Taiwan
The subject for the report was chosen because industry is the largest consumer of electricity in Taiwan and there is great potential to improve energy efficiency in the industrial sector in the short-, mid- and long-term.
“Our LCI members have a lot to offer Taiwan in the drive towards a low carbon future,” ECCT Vice Chairman Giuseppe Izzo said, adding that “adopting the solutions developed by LCI members would substantially increase energy efficiency in industry.”
Besides the environmental benefits, Izzo remarked that these solutions would also help companies to “reduce costs over the medium to long term.” Adopting them would help Taiwan to become “greener, more sustainable, more competitive and more profitable,” he continued.
Among other highlights, the report points out that there is great potential to realize significant energy savings in Taiwan’s manufacturing sector, which would translate into less primary energy use and therefore a reduction in energy imports and CO2 emissions. In this respect, the document shows how integrating energy management into a company’s business strategy can reduce costs and thereby enable companies to increase margins and competiveness.
Moreover, energy saved by industry helps to enhance economic independence while boosting energy efficiency, and is the least costly of all measures to reduce pollution and combat climate change since it does not require a change in living standards, way of life or industrial structure. It simply consists of applying better technologies to existing patterns of production, transportation, housing or electricity generation.
Despite such great potential, the report also shows that there are stumbling blocks to overcome before realizing greater energy efficiency. Taiwan’s relatively low energy prices, lack of comprehensive energy and climate policies and the lack of attractive incentives are the major reasons that industries have not taken action to enhance their energy efficiency.
According to the ECCT vice chairman, low energy prices make the return on the investment cycle rather long and thus act as a “disincentive” for investments in advanced energy efficiency technologies as investments are usually only decided based upon their immediate benefits and disregard life cycle costs over the medium and long term. In addition, he remarks that there is a lack of awareness among small- and medium-sized companies of the benefits of energy efficiency in Taiwan.
Reducing Energy Consumption,
Increasing Economic Growth
While Taiwan relies heavily on imported energy, the report further emphasizes that there has to date been little focus on energy efficiency. For years, total energy consumption in Taiwan has had a persistently positive correlation with gross domestic product (GDP). This is in contrast to countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany, which have achieved low growth or even declines in energy consumption while achieving positive economic growth.
With this observation in mind, Izzo noted that EU member states, as well as companies, have remained global leaders in tackling climate change. While the former have introduced policies to spur low carbon development, the latter are at the forefront of developing cutting-edge technologies. Last year, the EU adopted new targets for 2030, including a cut of 40 percent in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990, increasing renewable energy to 27 percent of the total energy mix, and improving energy efficiency by 27 percent compared to 1990. Based on experience to date, these targets are credible and economically and technically realistic.
More importantly, the EU successfully reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent while its GDP grew by more than 40 percent between 1990 and 2014. EU industry is also 19 percent less energy
In face of these challenges, the report indicates the growing emergence of energy management systems in recent years, which highlights the growing importance of energy efficiency for industry. Published in 2011, the ISO 50001 is the most globally-recognized energy management system standard. As of May 2014, 7,346 manufacturers in 68 countries worldwide have implemented the ISO 50001 system in their plants. Taiwan ranked No. 11 with 118 companies certified for ISO 50001. Among them, the manufacturing sector takes up the highest portion at 65 percent.
Another significant trend in recent years is the increase in the use of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems that recycle the heat lost in the conventional power generation process, making them far more energy efficient than traditional power generation facilities. European countries, including Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany and Italy, have actively developed large-scale Combined Cooling, Heating and Power (CCHP) Systems and promoted regional energy integration through legislation, tax discounts and subsidies for CCHP energy and natural gas.
Yet, Taiwan companies could also take advantage of such technologies, which could actually help them save money by reducing energy consumption. Such tentative solutions are presented in the final section of the report which provides a range of options developed by ECCT LCI members to improve energy efficiency in manufacturing.
Through proper advocacy, improved practices and education, the ECCT’s LIC report can help raise awareness about sustainable development and promote the adoption of low carbon solutions and address sustainability challenges. The LCI can further help engage local businesses, policy-makers and the public to work together to meet the targets set by the Taiwan government to lower carbon emissions and prepare companies to deal with rising energy costs.