InfraVest threatens to quit Taiwan

TAIWAN: The wind developer InfraVest is considering pulling out of Taiwan, blaming inadequate payment rates and lack of government support for clean energy, according to local press reports.

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The German-owned company is currently building the 75MW Taoyuan wind station in Taiwan, its fifth project in the country. It has invested more than NT$10 billion (US$318 million) since it moved into Taiwan in 2000.

InfraVest produces 143MW of wind capacity in the country, totalling 436MW by April (see map, below). It also developed the 50MW wind farm in Miaoli, which was sold to Macquarie International Infrastructure Fund in 2007.

The firm has a further NT$50 billion investment planned, but it may consider moving this to another country unless Taiwan improves conditions for developing renewable power, InfraVest chairman Karl-Eugen Feifel told a news conference in Taiwan.

He complained that Taiwan's parliament had still not adopted a bill on promoting renewable energy, which has been stalled in parliament for six years due to disputes over how to provide incentives to renewable power developers.

National electricity utility Taipower pays just NT$2.38/kWh (US$0.07) for InfraVest wind generated power, below the NT$2.47 to NT$2.96 range offered in China. This was exacerbated by the euro appreciating in value by 50% against the New Taiwan dollar since the energy price was set in 2003, said Feifel.

When contacted by Windpower Monthly, InfraVest would neither confirm nor deny the local press reports, nor other requests for information about their operations in Taiwan. Feifel said: "We do not comment on our operations and business for the international press and hope for your understanding."

Even extra revenue from the sale of carbon certificates evidently fails to make wind power attractive for the company. The Taoyuan project is expected to generate voluntary emissions reductions (VER) certificates for the carbon certificates trading market.

Switzerland-based South Pole Carbon Asset Management expects official registration of Taoyuan as a VER project later this year. It has already secured registration for three other InfraVest wind projects in Taiwan this year.

The fact that InfraVest's projects in Taiwan qualify for VERs indicates that the rates paid by Taipower are not enough to make the projects viable. In order to obtain registration, VER projects must demonstrate that they would be economically unviable without the prospect of sale of the carbon certificates.

VER certificates, each representing one tonne of avoided CO2 emissions, currently fetch a price in the high single-digit euro range. InfraVest's turbines in Taiwan will generate up to 373,000 carbon emissions reductions certificates in 2010, while Taoyuan is expected to generate around 110,000 certificates a year.

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