Taiwan to spend $56bn on renewable energy
KENSAKU IHARA, Nikkei staff writer
TAIPEI -- Taiwan is set to kick-start the promotion of renewable energy as part of President Tsai Ing-wen's denuclearization policy.
The government aims to raise the percentage of renewable energy in the island's power supply to 20%, or five times the current level, by 2025. It estimates the total investment, including for solar and wind power facilities, will amount to 1.8 trillion New Taiwan dollars ($56.6 billion).
The Executive Yuan -- the Taiwanese cabinet -- got the ball rolling in late October by sending draft amendments to the Electricity Act to the parliament, the Legislative Yuan, aiming to pass the revised act as early as next year.
The amendments will liberalize renewable-energy power generation and electricity retail so as to encourage private-sector companies to enter the market -- a move resisted by Taiwan Power, which has so far monopolized the industry.
Lin Chuan-neng, Bureau of Energy director general at Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, said the liberalization policy will promote fairness in the market and help introduce more power options.
The Executive Yuan plans to build a wharf in the Taiwan Strait, which is seen as a suitable area for offshore wind-power generation, by the end of 2018, as a way to lure private-sector players to the renewable-energy market.
Promotion of renewables and denuclearization are high on the agenda for President Tsai, who was inaugurated in May.
The policy is also attracting attention from overseas.
In October, Singapore's Equis Funds Group, which invests in renewable-energy projects across Asia, announced it would build a solar- and wind-power facility in Changhua County in central Taiwan. The NT$15 billion facility will go into operation next March.
Taiwan's major electronics manufacturing service provider Hon Hai Precision Industry is regarded as a likely new entrant in the power market, after Chairman Terry Gou indicated the company would expand its solar power business in Taiwan.
Japan's Hitachi regards the Taiwan Strait as having one of the world's most ideal offshore wind-power locations, a spokesperson said, and that the company sees the opportunity as a stepping stone for its goal of boosting its wind power business sales five-fold to an annual 100 billion yen ($894.5 million) by fiscal 2020.
Major Japanese trading company Marubeni operates two thermal power plants in northern Taiwan through a local company it acquired. The company is now studying the possibility of entering the renewable-energy market in Taiwan, where it can take advantage of a feed-in tariff system.
Concerns linger over Tsai's denuclearization policy for its potential to increase the risk of power shortages and higher bills, due to the uncertainty surrounding renewable power generation. But as companies, both in Taiwan and abroad, largely expect the government will stick to its renewables policy, competition in the market is expected to heat up.