Energy in Taiwan

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Map of Taiwan
Yearly electricity production by source

Taiwan lacks energy resources and highly depends on import, so it is a top priority to develop clean, sustainable, and independent energy and achieve the balance among energy security, environmental protection, and industrial competitiveness, and reduce CO
2
emissions through various strategies. Taiwan relies on imports for more than 99.23% of its energy in 2008, which leaves the island's energy supply vulnerable to external disruption. In order to reduce this dependence, the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Bureau of Energy has been actively promoting energy research at several universities since the 1990s.

As of 2010, in Taiwan, oil accounts for 49.0% of the total energy consumption. Coal comes next with 32.1%, followed by nuclear energy with 8.3%, natural gas (indigenous and liquefied) with 10.2%, and energy from renewable sources with 0.5%. Taiwan has 6 nuclear reactors.[1]

Nuclear energy[edit]

Nuclear energy is controversial and the privatization of the energy market (with Taipower that is owned by the state), originally planned in 2001, has been postponed to 2006. Nuclear energy provides one quarter of base load power generation and 16% from overall generation in Taiwan.[2] In 2012, nuclear power accounted for a total 38,890 GWh of electricity generation in Taiwan.[3]

Liquefied natural gas[edit]

The Democratic Progressive Party Government of the Republic of China under Chen Shui-bian was elected in early 2000 promising to approve only liquefied natural gas power projects in the future, and to increase the share of liquefied natural gas of Taiwan's power generation to roughly one-third by 2010. President Chen's administration tried to stop the 2,600 MW Longmen Nuclear Power Plant, currently under construction, but a court has ruled the construction could not be aborted.

In January 2013, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Shinfox signed an agreement to supply Kinmen with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Mainland China. The delivery of LNG is expected to be started in early 2015 to industrial companies. At a later stage, the supply will be increased up to 100,000 tonnes per year to include power plants and households. The agreement was witnessed by Minister of Environmental Protection Administration Stephen Shen. Shen said that the cooperation is helpful to help Taiwan in realizing Kinmen to be a tourism-focused low-carbon county.[4]

Renewable energy[edit]

Wind farms in Qingshui, Taichung.

In June 2009, the Legislative Yuan passed a renewable energy act aimed at promoting the use of renewable energy, boosting energy diversification and helping reduce greenhouse gases. The new law authorizes the government to enhance incentives for the development of renewable energy via a variety of methods, including the acquisition mechanism, incentives for demonstration projects, and the loosening of regulatory restrictions in order to increase Taiwan’s renewable energy generation capacity by 6.5 gigawatts to 10 gigawatts within 20 years.[5][6]

In July 2009, the Executive Yuan approved a proposal consisting of 16 measures to transform Taiwan into a “low carbon” country by 2020. The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) proposal set a long-term goal of cutting total annual greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by the year 2025. The Executive Yuan also requested the legislature to complete a bill on reducing carbon emissions and another bill on developing renewable energy. NT$226 million will be used to promote renewable energy and facilities in homes and public buildings. Over the next five years NT$20 billion would be invested into advanced technologies in seven industries: solar energy, LED lighting, wind power, hydrogen energy and fuel cells, biofuel, energy information and communications technology and electric vehicles. Cooperation between local governments and the central government will be enhanced by providing incentives for conserving energy and cutting emissions. Two pilot communities will be created per county or city over 2009-2011, with 50 percent of the energy supply in those areas coming from renewable sources.[7]

In August 2009, Taiwan's government has announced that it will invest T$45 billion ($1.4 billion) in the island's domestic renewable energy sector in an attempt to help the sector grow nearly eight-fold by 2015 thereby increasing industry production value to T$1.158 trillion in 2015 compared to T$160.3 billion in mid-2009. Proponents hope that "the green energy sector will help Taiwan become a major power in energy technology and production, as well as provide the creation of green jobs."[8]

Emissions[edit]

Taichung Power Plant, world's largest coal-fired power plant.

Total carbon dioxide emissions nationwide were 277.645 million tonnes in 2006, representing 124.68 percent growth over 1990’s 123.574 million tonnes, according to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). Energy conversion industry contributed to 6.9 percent of emissions in 2006, while heavy industry contributed 52.5 percent, the transportation sector contributed 14.3 percent, the commercial sector 6.3 percent and private households 12.1 percent.

Taiwan ranked third in Asia and 32nd worldwide in the 2009 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) for carbon dioxide emissions, published by Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-Europe) and Germanwatch.[9]

Energy consumption[edit]

LPG tanker off of Pingtung coast

Taiwan produces electricity from fossil fuels, wind, nuclear and hydro power. Taiwan’s energy consumption the equivalent of 10.5 million kiloliters of oil, or about 2.2 million barrels a day.

Consumption of petroleum products account for about half of Taiwan’s energy supply equivalent of 4.5 million kiloliters of oil. Demand for diesel declined 21 percent, while that for gasoline dropped 8.7 percent. Monthly Power consumption is around 20.9 billion kilowatt-hours. Formosa Petrochemical Corp. and CPC Corp are Taiwan’s only oil refiners.

Energy use in the first six months of the year rose 6.7 percent to the equivalent of 61.6 million kiloliters of oil, the energy bureau said.

Crude oil processing: 4.59 million kiloliters in June.

Coal imports: 5.23 million metric tons purchases of liquefied natural gas increased 13 percent to 1.06 billion cubic meters. LNG accounted for 97 percent of gas supply.

Imports of crude oil: 26.9 million kiloliters

LNG purchases: 5.58 billion cubic meters.

Coal imports: 31.3 million tons.

LNG is natural gas that is chilled to liquid form, reducing it to one six-hundredth of its original volume at minus 161 degrees Celsius (minus 259 Fahrenheit) for transportation by ship to destinations not connected by pipeline. It is turned back into gas for distribution to power plants, factories and households.

Energy efficiency[edit]

Efficient-Usage of Electricity Logo by Taipower

The Taiwan government has been active in promoting energy efficiency, and set a target of energy efficiency of 33% by 2025. This target is higher than Japan's commitment to APEC with the target of 25%-26% efficiency. The government is currently assisting 200 major energy users (companies and organizations) in implementing energy-saving measures.

Taiwan is preparing for the age of high oil prices, and is proactively developing clean energy, such as solar and wind power and biofuels. The efforts would help reduce Taiwan's reliance on imported oil, while contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The government aims for renewable energy to account for 15% of the nation's energy by 2025. It would amount to 8.45 million kilowatts, capable of producing 28.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. Wind-generated power could create as much as 8.9 billion kilowatt hours of electricity by 2025, comparable to 2.3 times the capacity of Linkou's thermal power plants. Many domestic companies are now beginning to work on the development of solar energy, and conservative estimates are projecting that 1.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity will be produced through solar power by 2025.

Under the Energy Management Law and the underlying Implementing Regulations and related measures, companies are encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their operations and products. Mandatory programs have been established for the purpose of energy conservation, including energy audit and energy efficiency standards for certain electrical and electronic products.

The Energy Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for formulating and implementing energy policy and laws, including the programs instituted under the Energy Management Law. The principal responsibilities of the Energy Commission include:

  1. supervising general affairs related to energy management to assure the stability of energy supply;
  2. accelerating the rationalization of energy pricing;
  3. promoting the effectiveness of energy utilization;
  4. preventing energy-related environmental pollution; and
  5. enhancing energy research and development.

The day-to-day work of the Energy Commission involves activities such as the development of policies and regulations, planning and conservation, research and development of technology, and data collection, processing, and publication.

Through the Greenmark program set up by the Fundamentals for Promoting the Use of the Taiwan Ecolabel, a number of energy-using appliances have been granted Ecolabels. For the electronic products, energy efficiency is one of the most important criteria for granting Green Marks. For further details, refer to the section on packaging and labeling. The Statute for Upgrading Industries also provides incentives for the improvement of energy efficiency.

Green energy technologies[edit]

Green energy technologies are a top priority on the Taiwan government's list of new industries to promote. President Ma Ying-jeou has highlighted solar and LED (light emitting diode) technologies as two areas where the island has potential to lead competitors.

Clean energy-related industries in Taiwan produced US$4.7 billion worth of goods in 2008, and the government hopes to grow that figure to US$14 billion by 2012.

Several companies in Taiwan have produced solar panels for years, including Motech Solar and E-Ton Solar. LED makers have also sprouted on the island, including Epistar and Everlight Electronics.

Groups from Taiwan have discussed using LED in public areas, including street lights and elsewhere, to take advantage of the energy-saving aspect of the technology.

Hydrogen fuel cell[edit]

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell research started fairly late in Taiwan when the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) began its research on fuel cell technology in 2001. The ITRI's current focus is on proton exchange membrane fuel cells, especially 3-kilowatt class fuel cell power systems, which are suitable for most Taiwanese households' average energy consumption. Presently, the high cost of manufacturing this type of fuel cell is still the most serious obstacle. It is estimated that Taiwan will catch up with other nations and mass-produce fuel cells between 2015 and 2020.

Bioenergy[edit]

Biodiesel, a diesel-equivalent made from vegetable oils or animal fats, is considered a practical option for the island. Biodiesel's greatest advantages are that it can be distributed through existing diesel infrastructure and be used in conjunction with petro-diesel after an inexpensive engine conversion.

Energy research[edit]

The Center for Energy Research (CER) at National Central University has initiated a plan to educate energy professionals. It would coordinate professors from related disciplines and build a diversified teaching platform to recruit young students and researchers. Educating young scientists in the field of green technology and encouraging them to create innovative products will provide Taiwan with an edge in the international market.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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