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Taiwan: Taiwan moves to develop offshore wind

Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) gave its nascent offshore wind industry a boost after it signed an agreement with developers Formosa Wind Power and Fuhai Wind Farm to test four to six offshore wind turbines off the country's west coast by 2015.

Taiwan is aiming for 600MW offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 3GW by 2030 to create a "new green era" and become a "nuclear-free homeland".

It has been looking to develop offshore wind since 2011, when the government commissioned global marine engineering consultancy BMT Group and independent developer Wind Prospect to write a report on how Taiwan can proceed with establishing renewable energy.

MOEA deputy minister Duh Tyzz-Jiun said he hopes the offshore initiative will promote TWD 15-22.5 billion ($510-765 million) worth of investment and create more than 9,500 jobs.

The companies are due to receive TWD 2,500 million from MOEA to take the project through permitting, followed by a 50% incentive fee, which is a subsidy to reduce construction costs.

By 2020, Formosa is expected to have 36 turbines off Miaoli County, western Taiwan and Fuhai is anticipated to have 30 turbines off the coast of Changhua County, also on the west coast.

State electricity company Taipower is developing an offshore wind project of its own, although few details have emerged.

Challenges

Richard Colwill, BTM's Asia Pacific managing director, said Taiwan faces three challenges developing its wind industry.

First, because of its strained political situation with China, Taiwanese developers are prohibited from using Chinese companies for infrastructure projects.

Second, Taiwan has no native offshore oil or gas industries.

Third, the Taiwanese want to build a local supply chain, but they do not have a significant wind industry so companies can be unwilling to invest in the country from scratch.

Colwill, who wrote BMT's report on the development of offshore wind in Taiwan, said: "Taiwan has a fantastic wind resource, but the difficulty is getting wind farms installed. The challenge is getting an industrial base in place and getting external contracts. The level of investment needed for two prototypes compared with 50 turbines is completely different.

"The government went through a see-saw 'what do we need to do period', which lasted four or five years. But it recut the strike price for electricity and showed clear support for offshore wind 18 months ago in the energy bill."

Despite the challenges of offshore wind Taiwan is very keen to ensure, like Japan, it is not totally dependent on other countries for energy, which is its biggest driver in developing wind.

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