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Academia Sinica president calls for more solar power

TAIPEI -- Solar power has made the most significant technological advances of all renewable energy sources and should be encouraged by the government, Academia Sinica (中研院) President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) told a legislative committee.

At a time when Taiwan is fiercely debating the future of nuclear power, other countries are aggressively developing renewable energy, Wong said in a report to the Legislature's Education and Culture Committee.

Germany and Japan have set goals of generating 80 percent and 30 percent of their power, respectively, using renewable sources by 2025, while Taiwan lags behind, currently generating only 4 percent of its electricity using renewable energy, Wong said.

With a consensus on the controversial fourth nuclear power plant having yet to be reached, Wong argued, Taiwan cannot afford to go without nuclear power and also have no other alternatives available.

Taiwan relies on fossil fuels for about 77 percent of its power generation, while nuclear power accounts for about 19 percent.

Vice Economy Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) said in an interview that renewable energy technologies are constantly progressing, with advances in the conversion efficiency of solar power a case in point, and costs were falling.

Because of that, covering Taiwan with solar panels now would be premature because the technology could easily become outdated and more expensive than it needs to, Duh said.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs offers incentives to promote renewable energy, but it is first necessary to test the reliability of any new technology before investing heavily in it, Duh said, citing four offshore wind turbines that will be tested by the end of 2015 to see if they can withstand typhoons.

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