Energy Taiwan Highlights A Growing Renewable Energy Economy In Taiwan

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Taiwan is physically located on a single island, but in the globalized economies of most modern nations, the focus on leveraging and strengthening its internal capabilities that locals are increasingly leveraging as a strength. The efficiencies and quality of local Taiwanese manufacturers in the solar and energy storage spaces were on full display at this years Energy Taiwan.

Energy Taiwan is the natural evolution of the predominantly solar-focused show last year into a more comprehensive show that put energy storage, wind and hydrogen fuel cell companies on display next to their silicon-cell based photovoltaic friends. This year’s show also highlights an increasing focus on Taiwan from global companies and countries looking to cash in on Taiwan’s sprint forward in a push to achieve its bold 2025 goals of deploying 5.5GW of new offshore wind capacity and 20GW of new solar installations.

Developers like Germany’s wpd, Denmark’s Ørsted and even utilities like EnBW joined the show to increase their exposure in the local market and to flesh out plans in support of the new offshore wind contracts awarded in April and June of this year.

In her opening remarks at Energy Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, the President of the ROC Taiwan, shared with us that solar power is now one of Taiwan’s fastest growing energy technologies, with a 140% increase in installed solar generating capacity in 2017. This increase has allowed Taiwan’s solar production to exceed the output of a single nuclear plant several times this year. That focus reveals that her focus on shuttering the three nuclear power plants in Taiwan by 2025 is truly feasible, with the right mix of renewable energy generation and energy storage.

The Taiwanese government is taking an active role in stimulating the localization of work on the new offshore tenders and is reportedly in talks with Siemens about the possibility of securing land for a new turbine factory in Taiwan.

It is also leveraging its power more directly with direct equity investments in local solar companies and more in a push that truly puts their money behind the impressive 2025 renewables goals. Active investments in companies does indeed equate to picking favorites, and sends a clear signal to residents, companies foreign and domestic, as well as other governments, which team the current Taiwanese leadership is on – Team Green.

Taiwan is in an all-out push to eliminate its 3 and a half nuclear plants in just the next 7 years. In support of its push into solar, wind and possibly even the very early stage hydrogen fuel cell economies, Taiwan is also leveraging its tariff structures to keep the production of local solar photovoltaic cells and solar modules remain competitive and effectively block the generally lower cost of solar modules from the Chinese mainland.

A constant push for increased automation in Taiwanese production helps keep Taiwanese panel production as cost-competitive as it can be, while higher quality standards yield longer than average warranties and panel efficiencies. These slight advantages in automation and brand perceptions are the last bastions of any hint of a competitive Taiwanese solar production industry.

On the other hand, the new push for gigawatt-scale solar and offshore wind have been structured in a way that will surely bring more solar cell and module production to the island, though the production of wind turbines in Taiwan is less certain. The ambitious goals for new offshore wind capacity are stretching by themselves without even taking into account the increasing requirement for Taiwanese products in the tenders.

wpd’s currently installed onshore wind and solar capacity and a look ahead at its pipeline of offshore and onshore wind and solar projects.

wpd shared that it selected Siemens Gamesa as the provider of the 640MW of its turbines for the new Taiwanese offshore tenders as it was the only manufacturer with the capacity to be able to deliver them within the timing of the project. That speaks to not only the challenges of rapidly deploying wind turbines to global markets, but an inevitable bottleneck in turbine production unless one of the big four global wind turbine manufacturers steps up to build a new factory in Taiwan.

Stay tuned for more articles featuring deeper dives into some of the exciting solar, energy storage, and wind companies we spoke with at the event last week.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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