Conference Highlights Energy Efficiency

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Robert Forden, Acting Director of AIT, addresses the participants of the US-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Framework Conference on Energy Efficiency in Asia.

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you anywhere.”

Leo Chen-Jan Lee, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, quoted Albert Einstein as he addressed the “Conference on Energy Efficiency in Asia,” held June 16 and 17 and hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy and the American Institute in Taiwan.

In the past several years, energy, climate change, and sustainable development have become key policy concerns for Taiwan, a nation that requires a stable and adequate energy supply for its semiconductor manufacturing and other high-tech industries. As an island, Taiwan cannot easily access the energy grids of its neighbors. In addition, lacking indigenous energy resources, it must import 98% of its energy supply from abroad.

In terms of electricity generation, thermal power plants – burning oil, coal, or LNG – account for nearly 78% of the supply, while nuclear takes up around 17% and renewable about 4%, according to the Bureau of Energy.

A major topic of recent discussion has been President Tsai Ing-wen’s ambitious energy-related goals: First, phasing out nuclear energy in Taiwan (creating a “Nuclear Free Homeland”), and second, reducing carbon emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2025.

“We need to be careful that in an emerging market, we don’t take policies exactly as they exist in developed countries and apply them without looking at the unique characteristics of that market.”

“One-size-fits-all” approach not viable

The two-day conference served as a platform for fruitful discussion on various aspects of energy efficiency, including policy and programs, industrial efficiency, commercial and residential building efficiency, and energy efficiency in the electricity system. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, was attended by representatives from 13 Asian countries, as well as the United States and Australia, among others. Both public and private sectors were represented, illustrating the importance of inter-sectoral cooperation on this topic.

Speakers shared their own experiences, offering best practices for energy efficiency. Marc La France, a Senior Manager in the U.S. Department of Energy, stressed that a “one size fits all policy” would not work here. “We need to be careful that in an emerging market, we don’t take policies exactly as they exist in developed countries and apply them without looking at the unique characteristics of that market,” he explained.

The first day of the conference featured speakers from the Taiwanese and American governments, as well as from companies in both countries. The second day featured speakers from 10 Asian countries who shared their implementation experience. The conference was unique in that it not only featured prominent nations such as Australia and Japan, but small island nations as well, including the Marshall Islands and Palau.

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The conference featured speakers from all over the world and from both the private and public sectors.

Each session was followed by a question and answer period, and participants did not hesitate to ask difficult, and often very technical, questions. Several AmCham members, including President Andrea Wu, were present at the conference, listening to and networking with important energy players.

Energy in the White Paper

Energy is a key issue of the 2016 edition of the Taiwan White Paper, AmCham’s most important advocacy document, which was released several weeks ago. The White Paper contains a section on “Ensuring a Stable Energy Supply,” and urges the Taiwan government to provide “a clear, data-driven national energy plan” that includes “realistic energy goals” and “considers both energy demand and carbon-emission reduction goals.”

“The Taiwan government must ensure that Taiwan’s power supply continues to be sufficient, reliable, and competitively priced.”

Position papers in the document also advise the government to adopt new Demand Side Management technologies, provide more support for offshore wind farm development, and attract more FDI to participate in the government procurement market.

Overall, the paper recommends that the government “ensure that Taiwan’s power supply continues to be sufficient, reliable, and competitively priced.” But will Taiwan be able to do this while trying to meet some of the world’s most ambitious energy and carbon-abatement goals?

The 2016 Taiwan White Paper can be found online at www.amcham.com.tw/advocacy/white-paper.

AmCham’s 2016 Golf Championship

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Pitch the Candidate

A total of 58 golfers, organized into 15 teams, took part in AmCham Taipei’s 2016 Golf Championship, held May 27 at the Kuo Hua Golf & Country Club in Tamsui.

With a full shot-gun start, all players teed-off promptly at 6:30 a.m., following the Texas Scramble format. The day saw clear skies with hot temperatures, but players stayed refreshed with non-alcoholic drinks generously sponsored by Swire Coca-Cola, tequila cocktails by Patron Spirits, and craft beer by Steve’s Brew.

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For the first time at the AmCham Taipei Golf Championship – held annually by the Chamber since 2011 – a side activity called “Pitch the Candidate” was introduced at this year’s event. In addition to the regular 18-hole tournament, golfers could take aim at signs bearing the photo of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Each successful hit was awarded with a sleeve of top-quality golf balls.

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Thanks to hole-sponsors Allianz, Corning, and Intel, golfers had the chance to win Nearest to the Pin contests at every Par-3 hole, as well as Longest Drive on two Par-5 holes.

All participants also took home “goody bags” filled with golf balls courtesy of Sanfu Global’s Simon Chang to celebrate his “Hole-in-One” achieved on March 4 this year, as well as other take-aways provided by Asian Tigers, Costco Taiwan, and Synergy Net.

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Tournament Results

Team handicaps for this year’s tournament were determined using the Peoria system, with the six special holes drawn randomly by players during the awards lunch. IGST Rockys (Joe Welsh, Ray Koot, Donato Scioscioli, and Henry Wang) won the championship, followed by AmCham 3 (Sam Lo, Susan Huang, Jesse Chen, and Charles Liang) as runner-up, and Air Products San Fu 3 (Paul Yang, Patrick Chen, Ally Kim, and Jeff Chung) in third place. Other golfers also had opportunities to win prizes in the lucky draws that followed, with products sponsored by Audi, Ballantine’s, Costco, Delta Airlines, Grand Hyatt Taipei, He Feng Chinese Cuisine, Howard Plaza Taipei, IGST, Patron Spirits, Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei, Silks Place Taroko, The Place Tainan, and The Sherwood Taipei.

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Before ending lunch, AmCham President Andrea Wu extended special thanks to the 2016 AmCham Golf Committee – Simon Chang, Doug Klein, Joe Welsh, and Lee Wood – for their expert advice on all things golf-related.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

Teams race to the finish line during the annual Dragon Boat festival. (Image: Flickr)

Teams race to the finish line during the annual Dragon Boat festival. (Image: Flickr)

If you passed by the Tamsui River this week, you may have seen – or heard – dozens of dragon boats speeding through the water. The crews of these boats, which are so named because of their dragon-like appearance, have been practicing for the Dragon Boat Festival, an annual holiday that honors Qu Yuan, an exiled minister and poet from the Warring States Period. The holiday falls on June 9 this year.

While there are various interpretations of Qu Yuan’s story, a popular telling is as follows: Born around 344 BC, he was a powerful and patriotic minister from the state of Chu. He was later exiled – some say because he opposed the king’s alliance with the Qin state, while others say that his reputation was tarnished by jealous court officials.

Living in exile, Qu Yuan wrote beautiful poems describing his admiration for his country. Nearly 30 years later, his state was captured by Qin. Unable to bear this sorrow, Qu Yuan committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River, illustrating his ultimate loyalty to his state.

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Dragon boats are carefully constructed decorated to resemble real dragons. (Image: Flickr)

The people of Chu rushed to the river on dragon boats to look for his body. Women threw zongzi, rice wrapped inside bamboo leaves, into the river, hoping the fish would eat that instead of his body. Men beat drums on their boats to scare the fish – and evil spirits – away, and a doctor emptied realgar wine (雄黃酒) into the river to repel monsters.

Two centuries later, the Dragon Boat Festival, known in Chinese as Duanwujie, is a lively holiday celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunisolar calendar – the day Qu Yuan threw himself into the river. This also happens to be around the time of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. As the sun is associated with masculine energy, this holiday represents the peak of masculine energy. Dragons are similarly symbolic.

There are many customs associated with Duanwujie, such as hanging mugwort bouquets to keep away mosquitos as the days become hotter and drinking realgar wine to ward off spirits. Children wear sachets containing different Chinese herbs for the same effect. Lastly, people eat zongzi, triangle-shaped balls of rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

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It is not hard to find zongzi, which come in both sweet and savory varieties, during the holiday. (Image: Flickr)

Perhaps the most recognizable tradition is the dragon-boat racing. Typically, dragon boats consist of 22 people – 20 rowers, 1 drummer facing the paddlers, and 1 sweep who stands at the rear and steers. This year, 210 teams composed of 5,000 participants from across Taiwan and the rest of the world will compete in the three days of racing in Taipei. The largest competition in Taiwan, it takes place at Dajia Riverside Park and offers a winning prize of NT$3,190,000. (Click here for a schedule of events).

At the race, you’ll be sure to see people eating zongzi, and at exactly noon you may also witness egg balancing. It is said that if someone succeeds in balancing an egg at noon, they will have a lucky year.

AmCham Taipei wishes you a happy Dragon Boat Festival! 端午節快樂!

AmCham Releases 2016 Taiwan White Paper at Annual Luncheon

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Revamping the Taiwan government’s rules-making procedures, preparing a stellar case for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) candidacy, ensuring a stable and reliable supply of energy and water, and boosting Taiwan’s ability to attract and retain talent – these were the main recommendations presented by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei when launching the 2016 Taiwan White Paper on June 2.

Nearly a hundred AmCham Taipei members and guests gathered at the Regent Taipei for the release of the annual benchmark advocacy document, which provides the Chamber’s recommendations to the Taiwan government on ways to strengthen the Taiwan business climate. This year’s White Paper proposed a total of 80 suggestions from 20 AmCham committee plus three other industry groups.

Accepting the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government was Deputy Minister Kung Ming-hsin of the National Development Council (NDC).

AmCham Chairman Dan Silver told the audience that “Taiwan can be a leader across many, many fields and can achieve things that other economies and countries in the region cannot.” But he added that “action is needed” for these positive developments to occur.

Deputy Minister Kung accepted the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government.

Deputy Minister Kung accepted the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government.

Silver emphasized the government’s need for a more transparent regulatory process, calling attention to Taiwan’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a statute that governs the country’s regulation-making procedures. “We are calling on the administrative to look at the APA as an opportunity to step up engagement with the public at the Executive Yuan level,” he stated. Currently, Taiwan’s public-comment period is only seven days, which Silver argued does not allow ample time for feedback. In addition, government agencies normally do not respond to the public comments.

Extending the notification and comment period to 60 days, providing a single website as the platform for feedback to proposed regulations by all government agencies, and requiring the agencies to post their response would create a more transparent process and result in more effective and practical regulations, Silver said. APA reform would also “provide solid evidence of Taiwan’s seriousness about promoting its second-round candidacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he added.

APA reform would “provide solid evidence of Taiwan’s seriousness about promoting its second-round candidacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” 

The chairman also highlighted the need for the government to ensure a stable energy supply as it tries both to phase out nuclear power and sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions. In the White Paper, AmCham urges the government to present a detailed, data-driven and realistic plan for meeting future energy demand. Silver also discussed the need for labor regulations that suit the desire by knowledge workers to enjoy flexible working conditions that spur innovation and creativity. 

Chairman Dan Silver presented (?) the WP earlier that day at a press conference

Chairman Silver presented the advocacy document as a press conference earlier that day.

Looking back at the issues raised in the 2015 edition of the White Paper, Silver noted that six issues had been completely resolved, while another eight have shown significant progress. The resolved issues include two each from the Asset Management and Banking Committees, one from Sustainable Development, and one from Technology.

In remarks after accepting the 2016 White Paper, Deputy Minister Kung emphasized the crucial importance for Taiwan’s economic future of gaining membership in the second round of TPP. He also touched on the issues of attracting foreign talent and curbing domestic brain drain, suggesting possible stipends for Taiwanese students to matriculate abroad in exchange for commitments to return to work domestically after graduating.

“Within the first 100 days after Tsai’s inauguration, there is a real opportunity to articulate goals and point the economy in the right direction for improvement.”

He also underscored the new government’s desire to improve public communication and coordination among government agencies. He noted that under the Tsai Ing-wen administration, the NDC will play an even more important role, in that Cabinet ministers will attend Council meetings and develop a consensus on economic policies before they are submitted to the Executive Yuan for final approval.

As the new government has been in office only since May 20, the White Paper comes at an important transitional time for Taiwan. Silver noted that “within the first 100 days after Tsai’s inauguration, there is a real opportunity to articulate goals and point the economy in the right direction for improvement.”

The 2016 Taiwan White Paper can be found online at www.amcham.com.tw/advocacy/white-paper.