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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 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.