“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.
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.