Sunday, June 03, 2012

Taiwan's Energy Conundrum

Totally retro Dashan, Taiwan

The Woodrow Wilson Center put out a long review of Taiwan's energy situation. The well-written introduction notes of the first author:
....Chang explains the Taiwanese government’s new energy policy, which is focused on maintaining efficiency, cleanliness, and stabilization of supply. There are plans to drop energy intensity levels to 20 percent of 2005 levels by 2015, and to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to 2005 levels by 2020, while constructing an energy supply system to meet the demands of development that would accompany the government’s target of 6 percent annual economic growth.
These goals may be attainable, but if everyone were to return to 2005 levels, it would mean the end of human civilization. It is unlikely that we will see 6% economic growth in Taiwan (4% is a more reasonable figure; this year is not likely to be very good and will be much lower).

The second author, a pro-Green writer advocating renewables, observes:
In 2009, only 0.63 percent of Taiwan’s total energy consumption was supplied from domestic sources. Further analysis of the energy consumed indicates that oil, coal, and natural gas, all largely imports, constituted 30.45, 51.82, and 8.62 percent of energy consumption, respectively, while hydropower constituted 0.26 percent, photovoltaic and wind power 0.06 percent, and solar and thermal power 0.08 percent of Taiwan’s energy profile. It is clear, then, that the majority of Taiwan’s energy needs were supplied by fossil fuels. Fossil fuel power plants and vehicles such as automobiles and motorcycles are the main contributors to Taiwan’s CO2 emissions, which comprise the third largest per capita volume in the world, behind only the United States and Australia.
The writers point out that Taiwan's emissions problems are not only an issue for global warming and energy efficiency, but also harm its ability to enter the international community. The Chen Administration passed some legislation to address this issue:
Responding to concerns about Taiwan’s energy supply and Taipei’s ability to meet its Kyoto commitments, the Chen administration, after carefully considering the energy technology options, passed an important renewable energy plan in 2005. This plan focused particularly on the scope for developing commercial solar, wind, fuel cell, and biofuel energy technologies. The goal of the plan was to generate 6.5 GW—about 10 percent of Taiwan’s energy needs and enough to replace existing nuclear power plants—from renewable sources by 2020, and simultaneously to create renewable energy industries for the island. 
The entire work is long and informative and there is much worth pondering. Enjoy!
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1 comment:

Bryce Wakefield said...

Michael: Thanks for the publicity!