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Scooter subsidy guidelines

As a champion of green energy, President Ma Ying-jeou has spoken many times about his determination to cut carbon emissions. Just like many countries around the world, Taiwan has implemented policies to subsidize renewable energy to make a greener island while opening green business opportunities.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA, 經濟部) was given the responsibility of pushing the development of electric scooters. As a result, the ministry made implementation guidelines for Taiwan Electric Scooter (TES) subsidies. The guidelines, however, do not live up to their purpose of assisting the development of scooters relying on renewable energy, and to some extent twist the market instead.

In the guidelines, the MOEA defines TES as scooters using lithium batteries. Companies producing scooters powered by any other energy source are therefore excluded from the subsidies.

According to the government, the reason to define TES in this way is to exclude the use of environmentally harmful lead-acid batteries. This argument is flawed in several ways.

First of all, if the government is really concerned about the environment, there is an alternative to ensure it is protected by the guidelines. The government could set a standard for protecting the environment and stipulate that scooters receiving subsidies must meet it.

Furthermore, although narrowing the subsidies for scooters to a single category may be the simplest way to avoid subsidizing lead-acid batteries, this method comes at a cost.

Since the green industry is in its early stages of development, its prosperity still depends mostly on government subsidies. Thus, subsidy policies can easily change the way companies invest. The guidelines for subsidizing TES force manufacturers to allocate most of their resources to scooters powered by lithium batteries. While the government is unlikely to have a clear vision about the future of renewable energy, this investment focus is risky. If lithium batteries prove not to be the energy that can best compete with fossil fuel then not only will such government subsidies, but also a significant amount of private investment, have been in vain.

August 16, 2012    johnny.brian@
Electric vehicle powered by battery, either lithium or other type is acceptable to fulfill the government proposal. A baby can not fly if he/she does not learn how to walk first. Once there are more electric vehicles on the road, then make substantial changes by trading lead acid with lithium battery. No wonder why there are many failures in government projects due to lack of vision from its officials.
August 20, 2012    freeman70@
If you really want to GO GREEN, ride a pedal-powered bicycle for short trips and take the bus or MRT for longer trips.

Taking in the cost of construction and maintenance, a simple bicycle is still the most eco-friendly form of transportation other than walking. You also improve your health by getting more exercise.
August 20, 2012    miller.henry641@
Hey Taiwan...where do you think that recharging electricity comes from?

Coal fired electric plants....FAIL!
August 21, 2012    neil_kemosabe@
I live in Chicago, USA. Our Administration has decided to subsidize electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt. It's a wonderful idea, until one considers the obvious: "What energy source will be needed to recharge the batteries?" Whether you eventually allow the consumer to 'trickle charge' their vehicle overnight in a garage, or use the public charging stations that are becoming commonplace, the electricity has to be produced (efficiently) one of two ways; 1) a nuclear power plant, or 2) a coal fired power plant. Face the facts, both solar, and wind turbine, are not viable sources to recharge the batteries of even half (approx 1 million) cars overnight. Natural gas in the only direction to go....at least for the US, since it's abundant, cheap, and it would eliminate our dependence on energy supplies that are currently derived from an increasingly hostile part of our globe.
August 25, 2012    CURTISAKBAR@
I had an electric bike and it was crap, top speed of 55km, a limited range, would just get me to Sanxia and back to Tucheng on a full charge. This was a top line electric bike costing almost 60k. I will never buy an electric vehicle again until the technology improves vastly. This is why they aren't popular; slow speed, lack of range and annoying having to charge it so often. The good thing about them, no oil changes and they are fun to drive. Like big toys, kinda like the ones you get in Bali.
August 26, 2012    paulanthonysamson@
Without proper financial motivation these kinds of projects will always fail.

Example: The manufacturing process of solar power cells is massive in terms of conventional power consumption so negating any real benefit.

The world’s transition away from fossil fuels will only ever move at a snails pace until economics dictate otherwise.

The science is at hand to create "alternative" propulsion systems for vehicles, but it is hindered by spreadsheet "bean counters" mindset.
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