Economy, Asia - Pacific

Taiwan emerges as new renewable energy center

With innovative technologies and internationally-focused companies, Taiwan advances as new global renewables leader

Fırat Gazel   | 24.07.2019
Taiwan emerges as new renewable energy center


Taiwan, one of the world’s most innovative economies, has steadily risen to the top ranks of solar panel production and overall has made its mark in the renewables sector through cutting-edge technologies.

Taiwanese companies have created unparalleled renewable energy solutions by taking a research and development-focused approach. This has been successful as the country now reigns as the world’s second-biggest photovoltaic cell producer. The country’s innovation has made it possible for the production of very light panels for rooftop photovoltaic systems and photovoltaic curtain walls that are environmentally-friendly and highly efficient.

Recently, Taiwanese companies have taken steps through asset consolidation to increase their market share amid greater competition. The United Renewable Energy (URE) is an example of this new precedent. URE was formed through a merger of the island’s largest solar cell makers, Neo Solar Power, Gintech Energy Corp and Solartech Energy Corp on Oct. 1 last year. Shortly after its establishment, URE became one of the largest solar panel production companies in the world, providing over 3,000 jobs.

Taiwanese companies have typically taken an inventive approach to solar panel production, which is now considered groundbreaking. Many Taiwanese companies, and, in particular, the Delta Group, provide solar tracking systems that are controlled by a Programmable Logical Controller (PLC) with a GPS sensor to allow solar panel adjustments to various positions in real-time to maximize sunlight capture. The company also uses bifacial solar modules, which generate power from the front and the back, and allow for sunlight capture as it reflects off the ground below the panel.

Aplus Energy Co. Ltd. also provides state-of-the-art rooftop solutions with its crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules that can be installed on ultra-lightweight steel grids with safeguards in place against overheating. The ease of installation, durability and high efficiency of these new modules are already garnering much interest worldwide.

Taiwan is also the world's second-largest LED-producing country. Currently, it stands second behind Japan, with Korea a close third. While Everlight Electronics is Taiwan's biggest and the world's seventh-largest company in LED production, Lite-On Technology Corporation and Delta Electronics, which are known as electronics manufacturing companies, are also some of the companies at the forefront of LED production. This LED sector has seen large businesses thrive in Taiwan with high returns on investments.

US-China trade war offers advantages to Taiwan

Taiwanese companies have invested billions of dollars in production in China, while some companies have relocated production to China, while many have gained access to foreign markets through China. Therefore, with considerable investments in China, Taiwan is understandably concerned over the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

However, the U.S.' recent imposition of tariffs on Chinese imports has led Taiwanese companies and the government to reevaluate its trade strategy. Since the start of the 'tariffs war', nearly $10 billion worth of Taiwanese investments have returned to the homeland from China, and this is only expected to enlarge and exceed $20 billion over the short term. Although Taiwanese officials admit that the island’s economy benefits from these developments, they say they are working on new strategies to turn the trade war between the U.S. and China to their advantage.

Taiwan, in a bid to mitigate labor costs, is also focused on the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. Taiwan is becoming a leading light in information technology and specifically with the 'internet of things'. The modern portfolio profile of Taiwanese companies with investments in the U.S., China, Europe and the Far East supports their advantageous market positions through diversification.

Trade between Taiwan and Turkey

The bilateral trade volume between Taiwan and Turkey ranges between $1.7 billion and $2.2 billion over the years. While Turkey's exports to Taiwan was nearly $270 million by the end of 2018, Taiwan's exports to Turkey reached almost $1.6 billion over the same period. Plastics, iron and steel materials, machinery and equipment are among Taiwan's main exports to Turkey.

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) plays a crucial role in ensuring successful exports by assisting Taiwan businesses and manufacturers in reinforcing their international competitiveness and in coping with the challenges they face in foreign markets. Founded in 1970 to help promote foreign trade, TAITRA is the foremost non-profit trade promotion organization in Taiwan. Another organization to support the development of green trade in Taiwan is the Green Trade Project Office (GTPO) sponsored by Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs. It serves as the primary think tank and accelerator to help craft policies. TAITRA and GTPO together promote Taiwan’s green industry.

“Garbage Island” turns into a waste management success story

Taiwan, once known as 'Garbage Island,' has faced waste management problems head-on by making garbage disposal everyone’s problem. The country is now one that has achieved a recycling rate of 55% in 2016 with its largest city Taipei achieving an impressive 67% recycling rate.

The country has attained this success by implementing several regulations back in 1997 most notably when the Environmental Protection Administration implemented the 4-in-1 Recycling Program. The program is part of Taiwan’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. Thomas Lindhgvist first formally introduced the concept in Sweden in a report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment in 1990. EPR is an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal.

As a result, the 5.87% recycling rate in 1997 in Taiwan reached over 60% in some areas as of 2011, with a nationwide average of 55%. During the same period, household daily waste decreased from 1.14 kg down to 0.43 kg.

Companies in Taiwan

Among the many waste management companies in Taiwan, Ecove, which was founded amid Taiwan’s waste crisis in 1994, quickly became a leader in effective waste management and resource recovery. The company is a global engineering services provider, specializing in Energy-from-Waste (EfW), waste management, wastewater recycling, solar power, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling.

Ecove currently operates both in local and foreign markets. In Taiwan, Ecove operates the Miaoli EfW plant, Wujih EfW plant, Taonan EfW plant, Xindian EfW plant and Houli EfW plant. In China, the company operates the Macau EfW Plant and the Lumberton Solar Power Plant in the U.S.

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