Taiwan’s wind power installation capacity may surge to 3,000 megawatts (MWs) by 2020 as the government is paying increased attention to clean or renewable energy, a researcher with the quasi-official Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) said We

Karen Ma, a researcher with the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center of ITRI’s Industry & Technology Intelligence Services (IEK-ITIS), said that as wind power is considered by the government to be the most important renewable energy, the country’s wind power installation capacity will be increased to 3,000 MWs in 12 years.

“Increased wind power generation, or adding the number of wind turbines, are expected to indirectly generate commerce worth over NT$200 billion (US$6.12 billion) in the country by 2020, ” Ma forecasted.

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Ma also predicted that by 2009, China is expected to replace the United States as the world’s largest country in terms of wind power installation capacity, as the Chinese government will increase relevant investment to boost the capacity of wind power.

In comparison, Ma predicted that growth in the U.S. wind power sector may slow next year as a result of an acute economic downturn caused by the global financial crisis. Most wind power stations are built and operated by private companies.

According to Ma, the global newly added wind power installation capacity amounted to 19,865 MWs in 2007, with global cumulative capacity topping 93,864 MWs.

Up to this year, Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) , the sole electricity supplier in Taiwan, has installed more than 100 giant wind turbines in 13 wind farms along Taiwan’s west coast, with a capacity of 420 MWs a year — enough to power 105,000 households and prevent the emission of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to Taipower.

Taiwan’s coastal areas are ideal for the development of wind power because they have six months of strong northwest winds each year, with an average wind speed of five to six meters per second.

The Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs has targeted renewable energy as a way to meet 10 percent of Taiwan’s electricity needs by 2010, with wind power to make up 80 percent of renewable energy sources.

Taipower began to harness wind energy in 2002 and plans to establish 200 wind turbines in Taiwan and Penghu by 2010.

In the long-term, Taipower plans is to build an additional 546 wind turbines between 2010 and 2020 in shallow waters off Taiwan’s west coast and Penghu, with a total capacity of 1,980 MWs at an estimated cost of NT$200 million each.

Out of the 546 windmills, 176 will be built off the Penghu Islands, and the electricity generated by these units will be transmitted to Taiwan through a 40-kilometer undersea cable.

Taiwan, with some of the world’s best engineers and advanced technologies, could emerge as an important player in the clean energy field, said Nicholas Dunlop, founder and secretary-general of the non-profit e-Parliament in Taipei Feb. 29.

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