Forward-looking infrastructure: green energy for the future

  • Date: 2017-04-17

I. Background

As the energy industry is now being transformed around the globe, many countries are looking to green energy as the future engine of economic growth. Taiwan is also developing green energy technologies as part of its efforts to increase energy self-reliance and become a nuclear-free nation by 2025. The government’s “five plus two” innovative industries program, passed October 27, 2016, includes a green energy industrial innovation plan that will focus on Taiwan’s green needs, spur extensive investments from within and outside the country, and increase quality employment opportunities while supporting the growth of green energy technologies and businesses. 

To accelerate the growth of green energy sector, the Executive Yuan also included a green energy infrastructure component in the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program approved April 5, 2017. The government has set aside a special budget of NT$24.315 billion (US$793.1 million) for that component over the next eight years (2017-2024) to shore up the infrastructure and certification capabilities needed for the development of green energy. By stimulating domestic demand and pushing industrial growth and innovation, the government hopes to make Taiwan a major Asian center for green energy production.

 

II. Four strategies for green energy infrastructure

To achieve the goals of energy security, environmental sustainability and a green economy, the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program’s green energy infrastructure projects will focus on four strategies: conserving energy, storing energy, creating energy and integrating systems. These efforts are expected to spur private investment of NT$1.8 trillion (US$58.7 billion) by 2025.

A. Smart energy conservation initiatives: Install low-voltage smart meters across Taiwan, beginning with 200,000 units in 2017, 1 million units by 2020, and 3 million units by 2024. Combine these meters with time-of-use electricity pricing plans so end-users can select the price plan best suited to their consumption habits to conserve energy, reduce power requirements during peak periods, and maximize smart meter benefits. These initiatives are expected to generate output value of NT$41.3 billion (US$1.3 billion) between 2017 and 2024.

B. Solar energy: Taiwan boasts globally competitive photovoltaic batteries but still lacks factories for assembling large modules. To build a comprehensive industrial chain, Taiwan is promoting research and development platforms to improve module reliability, such as the two-year solar power technology platform program, and helping industries develop high-efficiency, low-cost parts and technologies.

The government will also address reliability and safety issues for photovoltaic modules and systems installed in special sites (such as aquatic environments), thereby enhancing the industry’s ability to accommodate different scenarios and improving its overall competitiveness. The goal is to raise the nation’s solar power capacity to 1.52 gigawatts (GW) within two years, and to 20 GW (17 GW for ground-level systems and 3 GW for rooftop systems) by the year 2025.

C. Wind power: To make Taiwan’s wind farms internationally competitive, the government will construct the underwater foundations and heavy cargo piers needed for wind power development, including at Kaohsiung’s marine technology industrial innovation zone and the Port of Taichung’s offshore wind power industrial zone. The total installed capacity target for wind power is 4.2 GW (1.2 GW for land-based systems, 3 GW for offshore systems) by 2025.

D. Shalun Green Energy Science City: The purpose of this project is to create an innovative green-energy industry ecosystem, setting up a technical certification platform to commercialize green energy technology and a regional demonstration and certification site for energy storage equipment technology to drive domestic green energy sector development.

The Shalun site will also include a third-party inspection and testing center to help financial companies assess potential renewable energy technologies and increase their willingness to invest. Establishing this type of comprehensive financing mechanism will benefit domestic industries and enable Taiwan to carve out a niche in the global renewable energy market.

 

III. Expected benefits of green energy infrastructure

A. For energy industry transformation: Green energy infrastructure projects are expected to help strengthen Taiwan’s energy security, make the nation nuclear free and increase renewable energy sources to 20 percent of total supply by 2025, create a green economy, ensure environmental sustainability, and promote social equality.

B. For industries: These initiatives will turn Taiwan into a major Asian center for green energy production and development, and propel its green energy industry to a world-leading position within five to 10 years.

 

IV. Conclusion 

The emergence of the green economy has prompted the government to build infrastructure that will lay the foundation for Taiwan’s green energy sector, transform the nation into a nuclear-free society, and spur industrial innovation. These projects will also draw investments from leading international companies and encourage them to work with high-potential local firms, forming globally competitive teams that can boost Taiwan’s industrial future and ensure the nation’s sustainable development.