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Taipei Times – Ministry says renewables rules to start next year

By Angelica Oung / Staff reporter

With only the “final details” remaining, a law to require the nation’s biggest electricity users to boost their use of sources of renewable energy is to take effect from next year, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Thursday.

Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如) asked Wang to list the “large users” that would be affected, but Wang declined to provide names, saying that discussions are ongoing.

“It is more important to get these companies on board than it is to publish the list of large users right now,” Wang said. “We know who they are.”

The Regulations Governing the Chartered Capacity on Electricity Consumption Agreements Which the Users Shall Install Renewable Energy Facilities for Exceeding a Certain Capacity (一定契約容量以上之電力用戶應設置再生能源發電設備管理辦法), also known as the “major electricity users’ regulations” (用電大戶條款), targets companies, including those in the semiconductor, steel, petrochemical and electronics sectors.

About 500 users would be affected by the rules.

The regulations follow an amendment last year to the Renewable Energy Development Act (再生能源發展條例), under which firms that reach a threshold of electricity use must increase their use of energy from renewable sources to 10 percent.

Companies can fulfill this requirement by building their own renewable generation facilities, purchasing certificates, installing batteries or paying a fee.

“We are working on finalizing the details so that we can smoothly enact the regulation on Jan. 1 and get businesses to reach their 10 percent renewable energy target within five years,” Wang said.

The regulations were to take effect in November last year, but were delayed due to an industry backlash and later the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environmentalists have criticized the ministry for raising the contract capacity threshold for major electricity users from 800 kilowatts to 5,000 kilowatts, meaning the act would affect far fewer firms.

Nate Maynard, senior consultant at Reset Carbon, a sustainability consulting firm that focuses on supply chains, said that the progressive watering-down of the regulations is “a missed opportunity.”

“Taiwan is not helping its industries in the long run by weakening RE requirements,” Maynard said by telephone. “In fact, it is setting Taiwanese companies up for failure, as more markets set carbon targets.”

A broader requirement might have pushed more companies into adopting green energy and help lower renewable energy prices in Taiwan, Maynard said.

“So now the companies being affected are the same few big names that are already adopting” renewable energy, he said. “You are not causing a wider adoption of renewables.”

Content Credit: Taipei Times