Possible serious start for wind as German company announces investment

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More than a year after InfraVest of Germany abandoned plans to develop four wind farms with a combined capacity of 300 MW in Taiwan, the company has announced it will invest $74 million in wind power development in the country's Hsinchu County. It is unclear, however, if InfraVest plans to develop its own projects or invest in a 35 MW wind farm announced by state utility Taipower in May. More than a year ago Taiwan's Energy Commission rejected InfraVest's plans to develop 300 MW of wind power at four sites in Taoyuan, Taichung and Mailiao on the grounds that Taiwan did not need a lot of wind power. At the time Taiwan's target was just 500 MW by 2010. Today it is seeking 1500 MW by 2020, following premier Chang Chung-hsiang's approval in January of a three stage renewable energy development program. Today, Taiwan has just 4.8 MW of capacity, but plans announced this year by Taipower and Japan's J-Power could take that up to 194.8 MW. An evaluation of possible sites for projects is being carried out by the Industrial Technology Research Institute while, in the south west of the country on the Hengchun peninsula in Pingtung County, wind monitoring is being conducted at heights of 20 metres and 30 metres ahead of the development of a 15 MW wind farm by J-Power. There is also a new lobby group, the Taiwan Renewable Energy Industry Promotion Association, and by the end of the year the government hopes to clarify the regulatory framework for renewables development. It is also planning a package of tax and other incentives such as low-interest loans and preferential tariffs to encourage investment. Meantime, Hsinchu County magistrate Cheng Yung-chin will visit InfraVest to discuss its investment.

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