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Green energy advocacy groups suggest different paths

Green energy advocacy groups suggest different paths


The Taiwan Photovoltaic Industrial Association yesterday urged the government to take stronger measures to boost green energy installations, saying that the latest restrictions imposed by the Council of Agriculture (COA) would jeopardize the nation’s green energy developments.

Producing 20 gigawatts (GW) from solar farms would not be possible under the current rules, the association said, adding that 20,000 hectares of disused farmland should be turned into solar farms to meet President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) goal to raise the nation’s share of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2025.

“There are 300,000 hectares of uncultivated farmland in Taiwan, please just give us 20,000 hectares,” association president Sam Hong (洪傳獻) told a media briefing in Taipei. “We do not want to cut down any trees. Areas where trees cannot develop properly can be used for solar farms.”

The COA in July tightened the restrictions on solar farms built on certain agricultural land and fish farms. Under the new rules, the construction of solar farms that would cover an area of more than 2 hectares have to be approved by the council.

Before the restrictions, local governments could independently approve the construction of solar farms of up to 30 hectares. The council also banned dual-use solar/agriculture farms, saying that some developers have damaged farmland after they found loopholes in regulations formerly in place.

The council called for the installation of more rooftop systems and dual-use solar/aquaculture farms to reach Taiwan’s green energy goals.

Hong said that the COA “caved under public pressure” and “is thinking to small,” adding that aquaculture and rooftop systems would not provide enough green energy to meet the goal.

If the new restrictions stay in place, 10GW would be the highest possible share for solar energy, he said.

Last week, the Cabinet tapped Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) to form a task force to solve the conflict between solar companies and government agencies, including the COA.

Greenpeace Taiwan’s Energy Project Campaign director Alynne Tsai (蔡篤慰) called on the COA to act, citing rising public pressure over environmental concerns.

“The association says that it would not chop down trees or fragment farmland, but that is exactly what some of their members have already done,” Alynne Tsai said. “Instead of lobbying for restrictions to be lifted, they should lobby for more government guidance on how solar farm operators can work within the restrictions.”

Despite more green energy being needed, environmental concerns should not be brushed aside to reach the goal, she said.

“It is possible to build solar panels on stakes over farmland, but pouring concrete is cheaper so that is what most solar farms do, causing lasting damage,” Alynne Tsai said.

“It is reasonable for solar farms to expect a 6 percent profit, but if smaller solar projects do not meet that expectation, government subsidies could close the gap,” Alynne Tsai said.

Source : taipeitimes
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network