International Forum Helps Map out Future Carbon Reduction Pathways

The EPA recently held the 2050 Taiwan Greenhouse Gas Reduction Pathway Forum in order to gain a better understanding of assessment methods for low-carbon development strategies of other nations along with their experiences in planning for renewable energy power generation modules. Invited to the forum were experts from Germany, Australia and Japan, who spoke on topics such as research into renewable energy models, simulation parameters, calculating the costs of the technologies involved, energy storage, and a vision of a long-term low-carbon society? The foreign experts also engaged in fruitful exchanges of opinions with local academics.  

EPA Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen gave the opening speech at the forum and pointed out that the main objective for holding it was to share knowledge and experience about international low-carbon development strategies and assessment methodology, to give local experts a better understanding of the promotion of low-carbon societies overseas and the methods used in planning for renewable energy power generation modules. The knowledge will enhance the scenario setting proposed at the Necessity and Feasibility of 100% Renewable Energy and Zero Carbon Forum. 

Head of the European Economic and Trade Office Mr. Frederic Laplanche, deputy head of the Deutsches Institut Taipei Mr. Mirko Kruppa, and Dr. Nicholas Rodgers, who represented the Australian Office Taipei, were invited to give presentations at the forum. They all pointed out that many nations have already set about planning for long-term carbon reduction targets. Although this development process will entail higher capital costs, it will also produce numerous green economic opportunities. The foreign delegates also expressed the hope that they will enjoy a closer cooperative relationship with Taiwan in the future.

Dr. Jih-Chang Yang, senior consultant at Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute, talked about how planning for long-term carbon reduction pathways has to take account of cycles of reduction targets, the green economy, and technological innovation in order to produce tangible results. Dr. Carsten Pape, from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, and (via a video link) Dr. Michael Sterner, from Germany’s Regensberg University of Applied Sciences, talked in detail about Germany’s planning of energy targets to be achieved by 2050. The parameters involved include predicting power requirements, ratios of power generation from renewable sources, integration of supporting mechanisms, and designing power transmission networks. Macro conditions that also have to be considered when predicting future energy source distribution include climate patterns, geography, energy source distribution, economic development, and trends in the development of the power generation market. 

In his keynote speech, EPA Deputy Minister Shin-Cheng Yeh mentioned that on 18 May 2013, the EPA held the Necessity and Feasibility of 100% Renewable Energy and Zero Carbon Forum in a World Cafe format. He gave the delegates a cross-analysis of the opinions and ideas of the experts and 300 citizens from government, industry, and academia at the forum, saying that although there was consensus on the need for carbon reduction and increasing the proportion of renewable energy to reduce reliance upon fossil fuels, many people did not have a clear idea of a viable blueprint for Taiwan’s future energy supply. Deputy Minister Yeh said that the main points of contention at the forum included:

  1. whether Taiwan’s development of renewable energy sources is facing technological obstacles (in efficiency, energy storage, stability of power supply, etc.)
  2. whether Taiwan’s deployment of renewable energy sources is proceeding quickly enough
  3. whether Taiwan’s energy requirements are being effectively managed
  4. whether the levying of an energy or carbon tax would have a positive or negative impact upon industry and the livelihoods of Taiwan’s populace
  5. whether Taiwan has the overall capability to run an intelligent power network, improve power transmission, and upgrade energy storage

Deputy Minister Yeh pointed out that the process of deciding upon an energy policy is a trade-off, as energy security, tariffs, carbon reduction, degree of difficulty for infrastructure construction, public health and safety must all be taken into consideration. He said that most Taiwan citizens who have participated in public forums imagine a low-carbon living environment for Taiwan that is either of the “intelligent city” type with more mass transportation, green building, eco-friendly use of land, and a complete set of climate change adaptation measures, or is of the “back to the village” type - a toxin-free living environment and organic, locally-grown food.

Dr. Shuichi Ashina from Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies shared Japan’s dual-faceted anime-inspired vision for a low-carbon society by 2050, citing a Doraemon-style techno-city as one aspect, and a Satsuki and Mei-style urban village as the other. He also used Japan’s developmental experience as a starting point to discuss carbon reduction responsibilities and future low-carbon development opportunities for the Asia region. 

Mr. Paul Graham and Dr. Jenny Hayward of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and Dr. Joel Gilmore from the Australian firm ROAM Consulting, in turn presented analyses of the unique features of Australia’s electricity market. They applied renewable energy models that took demand, supply, and storage data as the starting point for the development of the models. They concluded that the main considerations in the development of a renewable energy structure are the poor stability of renewable energy sources, the increasing importance of technological research into energy storage, the costs of energy storage technologies, and the degree of interconnectivity and reliability of power transmission networks.

In his closing summary, Deputy Minister Yeh spoke about an existing consensus regarding the concept of a low-carbon future, even though the long-term carbon reduction pathway models that various nations are developing have their own unique features. He expressed the hope that Taiwan’s experts will have learned some things about how the planning and promotion of long-term carbon reduction pathways is undertaken overseas. He said that with the knowledge gathered through public participation, meetings of experts, and international exchanges, the so-called expert surrogate mechanism will be invaluable in strengthening Taiwan’s capability to set carbon reduction scenarios.


Prepared by Environmental Policy Monthly, July 2013