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Taiwan plans huge wind-power boost to meet emissions goals

Taiwan expects to increase its wind-power capacity from 530MW to 4.2GW by 2030 under an ambitious new renewable energy plan.

The wind push will see 1.2GW of onshore capacity added by 2020, says Shih Yen-shiang of the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, quoted in Taiwan Today newspaper.

The island nation currently has about 300 turbines installed onshore, mainly along the west coast.

Increasing wind capacity is part of Taiwan’s plan to boost renewable energy to 16% of total supply by 2030, a target set in its 2009 Renewable Energy Development Act.

Taiwan relies heavily on imported energy sources, especially coal, and ranks 14th globally in per capita emissions of CO 2.

The new wind projects would generate 3.3% of the country’s total power, according to the report.

Shih’s ministry will also provide grants to build two demonstration offshore wind farms by 2015.

The government will cover half of the costs of the equipment and offer a one-off payment of $250m Taiwan dollars ($8.6m) to the developers.

A number of firms have already expressed interest in the programme, including Taiwan Generations Corporation (TGC), which is developing offshore wind in collaboration with the UK’s SeaEnergy Renewables.

TGC is optimistic that its seven years of groundwork will put it in a good position to win one of the grants, says project manager Weiwei Tseng.

German developer Infravest has complained that Taiwan’s onshore feed-in tariff (FIT) of 2.61 Taiwan dollars/kWh is too low to make investments in wind energy viable.

But TGC’s Tseng says the offshore FIT is a more interesting proposition at 5.56 Taiwan dollars/kWh.

“It’s not as high as the FIT in Germany or the UK, but it has already been raised since last year so that’s a good sign,” she tells Recharge.

Full details of the initiative are yet to be finalised, with a formal announcement expected by the end of August. Taiwan is also due to release a new solar energy policy this month.