Friday, September 28, 2007

Taiwan to make massive wind power investments

Great news for the environment...Taiwan plans to spend $3 billion on wind power installation over the next few years.

Offshore turbine capacity may total 360 megawatts by 2010, according to a report from the bureau, distributed at an industry conference yesterday. That may eventually rise to 1,200 megawatts, Wang said, without giving a time frame.

Wind farms, both those built on land and in the sea, may account for about 5 percent of Taiwan's total installed capacity by 2010, he said. That compares with 0.4 percent as of July, according to Taiwan Power's Web site.

This month the government started accepting applications from private companies for building the island's first offshore wind farm, citing difficulties in finding onshore sites. Permission for a total of 300 megawatts will be granted within three years.

The government is promoting wind power, because ``we have plentiful wind resources,'' Wang said. The island's turbines are productive for as much as 35 percent of the time, compared with 20 percent in Germany, he said.

Teco, Formosa Plastics

Waters along the island's western coast have ``suitable'' sites for offshore wind farms, Wang said. Taiwan also has companies that produce components for turbines, including Formosa Heavy Industries Corp. and Teco Electric & Machinery Co., he said.

Teco, based in Taipei, makes household appliances. Formosa Heavy, also in Taipei, is a unit of Formosa Plastics Group.

Wind power of 300 megawatts can replace the equivalent of 250,000 kiloliters (1.57 million barrels) of oil and cut emissions of more than 620,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year, according to the bureau. Taiwan accounted for 1 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions in 2004.

Another reason for the government to push for wind power is to improve ``energy security,'' Wang said.

Taiwan Power, the state-run utility that produces about 75 percent of the island's electricity and monopolizes transmission in Taiwan, suspended a plan to build a coal-fired station in June after a government panel recommended dropping the project because concerns the plant will boost carbon dioxide emissions.

Without new coal plants the island may see its back-up capacity slip to almost zero by 2015, Tu Yueh-yuan, Taiwan Power's chief engineer, said in April.

There's been some complaints about the offshore wind program in the environmental community, because planning has been haphazard and hasn't take into account its impact on local marine ecologies. But any way you slice it, this needs to be done, or we are all going to fry.


偕偕王 said...

Let's see, the diameter of the blade is like at least 150 feet long, we are looking at something almost 200 feet tall and they need to be space far enough in order to be safe and efficient. Are they quiet? Of course not!

Let's say if we just install 1,000 of them or to maximize it with 5,000. Where are they going to put them? It's a disaster any which way I look at it.

偕偕王 said...

Those blades are like 150 feet in diameter. You are lookng at monsters 200 feet tall with enough spacing between them to be safe and efficient. Collectively, they are very noisy.

To make it worthwhile, you need to install thousands of them, thus the enviromental impact sould be considered, too.

Where in the world are they going to install these things in Taiwan where space is so scace already?

I think it's going to be disastrous.

Michael Turton said...

JJ --

wind takes up the least space of all power generation forms -- there's no waste, and no need for waste dumps, the fuel is mind and power generated all in one place, and accompanying infrastructure -- storage, roads, etc -- is all less.

There's plenty of room for wind in Taiwan -- a wind site can still be used for other things, like pasture, factories, etc -- unlike a thermal or nuke site.


Michael Fahey said...

While I do find the wind power farms unaesthetic, I am not in principle opposed to them. But given that this is a Taipower project, it needs to be watched very carefully indeed. For example, Taipower recently announced that they will need to build more underseas cables between Penghu and Taiwan to make wind power generation feasible. I am told that connecting grids is crucial to making wind power work, but I am also highly suspicious of any project that give Taipower excuses to build more stuff.

Tony Pace said...

I like the look of the wind farms - but I'm still pretty suspicious. In the lank of pork, massive land rental and construction contracts are a tricky thing. Sometimes they work for everyone and sometimes they're just waste.

The truth is, the only way to generate enough power to get rid of the coal and gas plants is to go nuclear. Yeah, it makes people squeamish - oh no, we'll poison the earth! - but the worst possible effects are much better than what we're doing right now. Chernobyl is a nature reserve. All we're protecting is hippie sensibilities.

Wind is just too little, too expensive.

StefanMuc said...

One aspect that should not be neglected: a lot of the money spend generating electricity on fossil fuel leaves the country. Most of the money spend on wind power stays in the country, and keeps contributing to the national economy. (E.g. if you pay workers to erect turbines they'll spend that money locally.)

StefanMuc said...

Michael - a nuclear power site can (partly) also be used for other things. In Nanwang it's used to host wind turbines. (Actually joking aside: that the turbines were placed there was a great idea, they were able to use the existing infrastructure to connect the generated power to the grid.)

Mark said...

wind takes up the least space of all power generation forms -- there's no waste, and no need for waste dumps, the fuel is mind and power generated all in one place, and accompanying infrastructure -- storage, roads, etc -- is all less.

Interesting post, Michael. I have to admit I don't know much about wind power. I had thought it didn't generate enough power to be economical, but if it's the most space intensive technology available to us, that's amazing news. I wonder if advances in nanotechnology will improve the yield of wind farms as much as they've been improving solar cells.

Unknown said...

Nice discussion...wind vs nuke vs conventional fuel with space and waste as factors to determine what's best for 'Taiwan' or anywhere else. Ok, get a clue kiddies. The planet is dying and you don't have enough time to fix it. Start with that premise just in case its accurate since the risk/benefit ratio of ignoring that fact will kill us all. Now just on the slim chance that we can accelerate renewables to the point of replacing conventional fuel generators 100% with wind, bio diesel and geothermal (we could if you learn to focus energy) then perhaps within 2 - 3 generations we may be able to grow polar ice caps again and start a cooling trend. Drought, disease and famine are the alternatives. Where do we start? How about turning Taiwan into a mecca for blade and gen mfg. They already have the skilled fiberglass workers and their pal China has plenty of generator technology - that is where GE makes their gens. So...Taiwan? Wind? A perfect fit and a great place to enhance and then supply a global trend.

Anonymous said...

every picture of Taiwan I see verdant low hills all empty of buildings or construction, perfect for hilltop generators. A wind farm of a line of generators will slowly change peoples minds to beauty that their grandchildren will find normal. Up on the hill is our power generation, not from evil countries with evil agendas, but our own resource built by my grandfather thinking ahead.

Anonymous said...

taiwan with 1% of the carbon emission will disappear like Singapore if forward thinking people don't believe that oil will run our soonest. Every picture I see of Taiwan are little sharp hills filled with verdant forest unused by industry that are perfect for the situation of generators along the peaks. The grandchildren of the people who build the generators will aesthetically love the beauty of the generators making them free of foreign evil influences as their wealth sets them apart.

Anonymous said...

I think all the windpower-haters need to take a quick look at this to gain some perspective:

Arguments against windpower