Thursday, December 24, 2009

Solving Energy Crisis – Taiwan Way

Enough has been said, and little done to increase our energy production base for the last so many years. We are pouring in billions of dollars every year to import more oil and burn more natural gas to produce electricity and yet we have a shortfall everyday of the year. Our water ways and dams, being limited in number, are unable to cope up with our growing energy needs. And as an alternative, we are only looking for IPPs / RPPs to produce electricity at exorbitant cost from oil and gas. Since oil we do not have, so we have to import it which consumes a major chunk of our foreign exchange reserves. Our natural gas reserves, which has been used without any long term plans, are already diminishing everyday.

So what have done to resolve the issue? Have we gone to wind or solar energy? Something which is in abundance the year round in almost all parts of Pakistan. Or have we really tried to tap our coal reserves which were discovered decades ago? No we haven’t and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of doing so by any government. 

But others are doing it – Taiwan for example. Taiwan plans to boost its use of solar panels by a factor of 200 over the next decade and a half in an effort to increase clean energy. Solar panels across the island currently have a capacity of five megawatts, enough to power 500 buildings, but by 2025 that figure is targeted to rise to 1,000 megawatts. Taiwan's parliament in June passed a major renewable energy bill which is aimed at adding between 6,500 and 10,000 megawatts of installed energy from renewable sources over the next 20 years. Under the bill, the government will offer incentives and loosen regulations on renewable energy providers, creating a pricing mechanism for various sources of renewable energy, such as solar or wind.

Although, solar energy is expensive in installation, but once installed, it has very meagre recurring cost and is thus very cost effective. Likewise the wind energy through installation of turbines is yet another cheaper alternative. Much has been written and talked about alternative means of energy, but it is a big question mark why we aren’t we going ahead with it.

Read more: Taiwan plans massive growth in solar energy