Ma reaffirms need for optimal energy mix

ROC President Ma Ying-jeou said Oct. 15 that maintaining an optimal mix of power sources is key to safeguarding Taiwan’s energy security while ensuring the health of the economy and livelihood of the people.

“Taiwan relies on imports for 98 percent of its energy and cannot relinquish any of its options,” Ma said at a forum on the development of renewable energy resources in Taipei City.

“An objective view must be taken based on what’s best for the nation and in maintaining an optimal energy mix.”

According to the president, the government’s energy policy emphasizes diversity and independence in basing its optimal mix on fossil fuels, natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar power.

Optimality depends on such factors as carbon emissions, cost and energy efficiency, with diversification aimed at spreading risk and enabling the country to remain independent of external factors, Ma said.

Since the March 2011 incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, Ma said he has emphasized nuclear safety and gradually reducing reliance on nuclear power. This is intended to create a green, low-carbon environment and nuclear-free homeland, he added.

To achieve this goal, renewable energy sources will play an important role, the president said, citing such initiatives as passing the Renewable Energy Act in 2009.

“Compared with the end of last year, the nation has installed an additional 551 megawatts of generating capacity, taking the total to 3.7 gigawatts, with a further 6.6 GW scheduled to be added by 2015,” Ma said. “Total capacity will stand at 9.95 GW, far in excess of the 6.5 GW of additional generating capacity required within 20 years as stipulated by the act.”

Capacity from renewables is projected to reach 12.5 GW by 2020, enough to produce 35.6 billion kilowatt hours, equivalent to the energy demands of 8.9 million or 78 percent of the nation’s households, the president said.

In terms of developing Taiwan’s renewable energy sources, Ma said, the government is working to boost solar and wind power, with installed photovoltaic capacity projected to hit 3.1 GW by 2020.

“Taiwan currently has 314 wind turbines installed, with a capacity of 571 MW. Total wind power capacity is scheduled to climb to 600 MW and 3 GW by 2020 and 2030, respectively.”

With regard to geothermal, tidal and biomass power, the president said, geothermal is still in the developmental stage, costing NT$14 (US$0.47) per kilowatt hour, while tidal is yet to show much progress.

“Admittedly, the proportion of renewable energy sources in the overall mix is relatively low at 3.4 percent, so there is considerable room for improvement.”

The president said he recently met with numerous domestic and foreign energy experts and learned that renewable energy sources cannot replace nuclear power within the next 30 to 40 years. In addition, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook sees no fall in nuclear power usage going forward.

“Renewable energy sources will not be able to replace nuclear power in the foreseeable future,” Ma said, adding that they can help reduce reliance on nuclear and fossil fuel sources.

“The government will press ahead with the development of renewable energy sources, especially as technological advances are offering new opportunities. Problems such as the intermittent nature and instability of these sources will someday be resolved, strengthening the nation’s energy autonomy and security, as well as efforts combating air pollution.”

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