In the second half of the 20th century, Taiwan became one of the world’s key economic players on the back of its industrial prowess. Now, in the face of increased international competition and trade liberalization, the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has outlined a broad range of initiatives designed to shift the nation’s focus from manufacturing to innovation. To power this transition, plans have been set in motion to harness the island’s abundant sustainable resources, and through this process make the country a hub of green energy technology.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has been tasked with spearheading efforts to increase the ratio of electrical power produced via renewable resources from today’s roughly 4 percent to 20 percent by 2025. Currently, the majority of Taiwan’s electricity—around 80 percent—is generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. The remaining 16 percent comes from the nation’s three active nuclear power facilities, which the administration aims to phase out by 2025.
To realize the country’s renewable energy objectives, a series of sweeping initiatives are being implemented, including efforts to promote the widespread installation of solar arrays in selected areas around the nation. The government is also actively developing offshore wind power and establishing facilities for the research and development of advanced technologies, such as smart electricity meters, to better utilize the power generated by green as well as traditional methods.
The most ambitious of the clean energy endeavors involves increasing the installation and output of solar panels, of which Taiwan is the world’s second largest manufacturer. According to Premier Lin Chuan (林全), the plan is designed to make the island more energy self-sufficient and stimulate domestic demand and employment. The initial two-year phase of the project began in July 2016 with the objective of adding 1.52 gigawatts to Taiwan’s solar capacity. By 2025, the goal is to have an installed solar power capacity of 20 GW, with 3 GW coming from rooftop units and 17 GW from ground-mounted panels.
To further capitalize on Taiwan’s abundant sustainable resources, efforts are underway to erect wind turbines in the Taiwan Strait, which boasts some of the world’s best offshore wind resources. The 2025 objective is to establish 3 GW of offshore wind power capacity. Toward this target, a public-private strategic alliance was initiated last November under the auspices of the MOEA’s Bureau of Energy and led by shipbuilder CSBC Corporation, Taiwan. Made up of state-backed enterprises and research institutions as well as private firms, the consortium will plan, install and maintain offshore wind turbines, while also training engineering staff.
Tainan City has been chosen as the hub of the nation’s green energy sector. In November last year, the Shalun Green Energy Science City project was launched in the southern municipality with the goal of spurring R&D. Activities at the green energy park will initially focus on four crucial areas, namely electricity generation, storage and conservation, as well as smart grids. The park will also act as a demonstration area for environmentally friendly technologies such as wirelessly charged electric buses, solar-powered vehicles and green architecture. Situated in Tainan due to the area’s existing tech talent, the park will serve as the foundation of a nationwide industrial ecosystem for green technologies.
The country’s sustainability push is about more than just clean energy. Solar and wind power projects will attract investment, increase domestic employment opportunities and boost peripheral businesses. In addition, advanced technologies developed at the nation’s science parks will help make the island a hub of green innovation. The environment will benefit from reduced carbon emissions and Taiwan will be one step closer to achieving a nuclear power-free homeland.