Taiwan's President advocates renewable energy transition

Vyra Wu, Taipei, Digitimes Asia 0

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen delivered a compelling address at the International Summit on ESG & Sustainable Taiwan 2024, underscoring the island nation's steadfast commitment to renewable energy and carbon neutrality.

Highlighting the significance of COP28's resolutions, President Tsai emphasized the global imperative to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 and double energy efficiency targets. Taiwan has been actively advocating for renewable energy and transitioning towards a carbon-neutral future since 2016, with tangible progress evident over the past eight years.

From 2016 to last year, Taiwan's renewable energy generation surged from 12.7 billion kWh to 26.7 billion kWh, marking a remarkable growth of nearly 110%. Notably, the installed capacity of solar and wind power has increased by 13GW since then, with offshore wind power alone reaching a cumulative capacity of 2.3GW, signifying Taiwan's leadership position in the Asia-Pacific region and its status as one of the few countries globally to surpass the 2GW milestone in offshore wind power.

In response to these imperatives, the Taiwanese government has presented a comprehensive roadmap towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This initiative includes 12 key strategies and provisions for a three-year budget to assist businesses in upgrading equipment, fostering talent, and enhancing international competitiveness.

Notably, numerous Taiwanese enterprises have been actively adopting innovative technologies to reduce carbon emissions while pioneering new business models. Initiatives such as energy efficiency improvements, support for recycling, and the development of low-carbon and biofuels showcase the synergies between environmental protection and economic development.

Echoing the government's stance, Tseng Wen-sheng, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs (MOEA), emphasized the importance of aligning with Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) considerations to maintain competitiveness.

"The strategy for reducing carbon emissions involves effectively aligning with the international community. With the emergence of carbon border tax, addressing carbon reduction is no longer solely the domain of individual countries. The crux lies in assessing the carbon footprint of each product and ensuring consistency in the costs associated with its carbon emissions worldwide." He stressed the need for robust carbon management practices and encouraged businesses to familiarize themselves with international standards and reporting mechanisms.

According to customs export data for the year 2022, Taiwanese businesses exported goods to European counterparts, totaling 2,015 enterprises. Among these, 808 were in the manufacturing sector, representing approximately 40%, while 1,207 were in non-manufacturing sectors, making up 60% of the total. Tseng noted that industries primarily affected by the CBAM include steel fasteners and aluminum products, with many of these being small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lacking experience in carbon inspection and reduction.

Of note is that, according to statistics from the European Commission, Taiwan ranks fifth globally in declaration volume during the CBAM transition period, following China, the US, the UK, and Turkey. Tseng suggests that while Taiwan's industries may have smaller scales and export volumes compared to China and the US, the high percentage of declarations indicates a strong sensitivity among Taiwanese enterprises to carbon fees.

Tseng highlighted the significance of energy efficiency enhancements across industries, emphasizing the pivotal role of lowering electricity consumption in carbon emissions reduction strategies. He also emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts between government, industries, and civil society to drive meaningful progress towards sustainability.

Edwin Liu, President of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), elaborated on the institute's role in supporting industries through sustainable strategies. By leveraging technological advancements and facilitating carbon footprint assessments, ITRI aims to guide businesses toward sustainable practices and business model innovation.

In the financial realm, Joshua Tien, CEO of Taiwan Carbon Solution Exchange (TCX), underscored the economic implications of the carbon fee mechanism. With Taiwan's impending carbon fee implementation, businesses are increasingly recognizing the necessity of carbon offset strategies and emissions reductions to remain competitive in global markets.

"Taiwan is an integral part of the international supply chain and must adhere to global gaming rules." He highlighted the establishment of international standards for carbon neutrality and urged businesses to integrate long-term carbon fee considerations into their strategic planning.

As Taiwan prepares to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by evolving global sustainability initiatives, the consensus among policymakers, industry leaders, and experts underscores the necessity of concerted efforts toward a greener, more resilient future.