Saturday, July 05, 2014

Paper on Parade: Comprehensive Overview of Renewable Energy Development in Taiwan

Picked up this sturdy overview paper Comprehensive overview of renewable energy development in Taiwan (H.H. Chen, A.H.I.Lee/Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 37(2014)215–228) for my regularly irregular Paper on Parade series. The paper concludes by noting that solar thermal, solar PV, and wind appear to be Taiwan's most promising renewable resources. On wind, it notes:
According to the statistical report from Industrial Technology Research Institute(ITRI)in Taiwan,a potential of 4.6GW (7.47%) wind power associated with annual generating hour more than 1800h is forecasted in areas with wind speed greater than 4.5m/s as well as windpower density above 150W/m2 at 50m in Taiwan onshore [11]. Based on the analysis of off shore windpower potentials, a potential of 9GW (14.61%) windpower is predicted while actual amount of 1.2GW is exploitable in shoal waters of west coast between 5m and 20m.In deeper waters between 20m and 50m, a potential of 48GW (77.92%) windpower is estimated
while actual amount of 5GW windpower is exploitable. The composition of windpower potential is shown in Fig. 2[12]. Since the reserve of windpower in Taiwan is 1.7 times than that of wind-power in developed countries like Denmark and Germany, a great intangible green treasury is observed.
The article cites another work showing that onshore wind land will be exhausted by 2020, which means that wind development will have to be moved offshore. It also notes that the Bureau of Energy has a promotion office to drive development of solar roofs and wind farms, and that wind turbine parts are a big business for Taiwan firms. Just imagine how much wind power we'd have had already if the KMT hadn't insisted on wasting billions of dollars on that idiotic fourth nuclear power plant -- not to mention how big the domestic wind energy industry would be.

After discussing ocean thermal and ocean wave energy, whose technologies are in their infancy in Taiwan, though the island has considerable potential, the paper moves on to solar. It observes:
Annual sunshine in Taiwan is in a range of 1500–2200h for most parts of the island, and even reaching 2500h in the southernmost region. As the average solar irradiance in Taiwan is 716–1027kcal/daym2, solar energy resources in Taiwan are abundant to make the development of solar energy extremely practical compared to most of other locations around the world.
About 500,000 households in Taiwan have solar water heaters, where both the rate of popularization and density of the installations make Taiwan fifth in the world for this form of energy use.

Taiwan actually produces several forms of potential biomass power. In addition to urban and industrial waste which can be burned, Taiwan also has 159 landfills producing methane that is used to make power (a relatively tiny amount in the overall scheme of things). Pig and other animal waste is also used on a very small, local scale. At present Taiwan has no bioethanol maker for biofuels. It is cheaper to import the alcohol than produce it in Taiwan. The government is pushing the development of a company and technology that can convert cellulose to biofuel. At present Taiwan has little biodiesel crop production, and raw material and production costs are high.

Moving past biomass power to geothermal, the paper observes that there are 26 potential geothermal sites in Taiwan, but only Tatun Shan north of Taipei has volcanic geothermal potential. However, the water extracted is so acidic the resulting corrosion has shut down use of that area. There was a pilot program going on until 1993, but most geothermal energy in Taiwan is located in remote areas and is difficult to access.

As most readers will know, sites for large-scale hydropower exploitation in Taiwan are almost all used. The paper argues that hydropower, which at presents accounts for 5% of Taiwan's power generation, should focus on small- and medium-scale systems.

A comprehensive paper with lots of numbers and graphs. Very useful.
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Mike Fagan said...

"The article cites another work showing that onshore wind land will be exhausted by 2020, which means that wind development will have to be moved offshore."

One thing to be careful of is assuming linearity of cost scaling. Even with subsidies, the budget will still be limited and so an optimal size for an off-shore wind farm will probably have to be found that limits the size of the farm so that the maintenance costs do not push it over into a diseconomy of scale. The farm authority will have to have constant monitoring systems and maintenance cranes parked out there throughout the year, and those things are not cheap, nor immune from maintenance requirements themselves.

Michael Turton said...

Its really irrelevant since the choice is renewables or the end of human civilization. However, the costs can easily be absorbed, since they are so much lower than those of fossil fuels.

Mike Fagan said...

Leave Taipower in charge of the grid, and privatize supply. If off-shore wind really can compete with coal and natural gas here in Taiwan, then let somebody take a risk on the investment instead of having it all managed top-down by Taipower and the government.