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Taiwan green energy industry set to boom after new law enacted

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's green energy industy is poised to boom after a statute aimed at promoting renewable energy development cleared the legislative floor last week, a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official said Saturday.

Yeh Hui-ching, director of the MOEA Bureau of Energy, said passage of the Renewable Energy Development Act has formally ushered into Taiwan the era of alternative energy development and related applications.

"It means that in the future, the development and application of renewable, pollution-free sources of energy that produce low amounts of carbon-dioxide emissions will be given priority in terms of low-carbon energy development in the country, " Yeh said during a ceremony marking the establishment of the Taipei-based Chinese Alternative Energy Association.

The enactment of the statute represents the beginning of a linkage between energy and environmental conservation, he said.

The act provides a legal framework that will encourage investment in renewable energy production and offer incentives to local consumers to install renewable energy equipment.

Under the law, the government will provide incentives such as equipment purchase subsidies and low-interest loans to increase renewable energy generating capacity in Taiwan to between 6.5 million kilowatts and 10 million kilowatts.

Yeh said it is hoped that these and other incentives will boost the development of local solar, wind, biomass and other green sectors.

In line with the spirit of the new statute, he said, the Executive Yuan has also instructed that 10 percent of the funding for public construction projects under the government's public works stimulus package will be set aside for the development of renewable energy or energy-saving efforts.

"These plans will in turn form the foundation of green business in the country," he added.

In addition to permitting state-run Taiwan Power Co. to buy electricity generated by private renewable energy investors, the statute also allows the government to offer other incentives to speed up the development of renewable energy technologies.

The statute stipulates that the development of solar photovoltalic energy, solar thermal energy, wind power generation, biomass energy and nuclear power generation will be given priority in terms of energy development.

Of these sectors, the solar energy sector will hopefully become the country's next NT$1 trillion industrial sector and result in Taiwan becoming a leading manufacturer of solar photovoltalic energy equipment in the world, said National Taiwan University President Lee Si-chen, who is the convener of a national energy development project authorized by the National Science Council.

"The government's target is quite clear now that the installation capacity of renewable energy will account for 15 percent of the entire power installation capacity in the country by 2025, with its power generation capacity projected to increase to 8 percent of the total power supply in Taiwan," Lee said.

Meanwhile, Tsai Chin-yao, chairman of the Solar Photovoltalic Energy Development Committee under the non-profit Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) Taiwan, forecast that the enactment of the statute will spark investment of NT$30 billion in Taiwan's renewable energy sector within one year.

The investment could create up to 10,000 jobs and generate NT$100 billion in revenues within one to two years, he forecast.

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