After a holiday break, Taiwan Sustainable Cities is back with a news round-up to start the new year.
On the heels of Taiwan's new municipalities commencing operation, the government announced the planned creation of the Ministry of Environment and Resources. The new ministry goes against a trend of government consolidation, as Taiwan's cabinet-level agencies will shrink from 37 to 27 by 2012. Uniting natural resource management and environmental conservation under the umbrella of one agency, the Ministry of Environment and Resources' responsibilities (amongst others) will include climate change planning and pollution control.
Accompanying Taiwan's strong industrial productivity, electricity demand and energy use is climbing. To meet its future energy needs, Taiwan's government announced a NT $25 billion (US $848 million) investment in clean energy over the next five years. The government aims to attract an additional NT $200 billion (US $6.7 billion) in private investment into the clean energy sector. Solar energy demand is increasing in southern Taiwan. Topcell Solar is planning to build a US $600 million solar plant in the Tainan Technology Industrial Park. The new solar facility will provide additional clean energy to alleviate energy demand on Topcell's existing solar energy plant in Tainan. Although renewables will comprise an increasing share of Taiwan's energy mix, three nuclear power plants still provide 20% of the island's electricity. Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs announced another delay in the opening of Taiwan's controversial fourth nuclear plant. Due to safety concerns, the plant is now scheduled for a late 2012 opening.
Taiwan's first zero-carbon building opened this past week at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. The Y.S. Sun Green Building Research Center, known as the "Magic School," utilizes several innovative renewable energy, energy efficiency, and natural ventilation technologies to achieve its energy savings. Taiwan's tallest building is also going green. The Taipei 101 is investing US $1.8 million in its efforts to achieve a LEED Gold rating. The Taipei landmark's energy efficiency retrofits will save US $20 million per year.
Whilst Taiwan's emissions trading legislation remains under discussion, the EPA is moving forward with emissions reduction initiatives in the transportation sector. Six automobile manufacturers have agreed with the EPA to voluntarily reduce CO2 emissions by 10-15% over the next five years. Amidst calls for greater government support of electric vehicles, Taiwan's EV market will benefit from electric battery exchange stations. In the next three years, City Power Co. will roll-out 3,000 battery exchange stations for electric scooters. Battery exchange will mitigate the long waiting time for electric scooters to recharge, instead allowing participants to simply swap batteries at gas stations, parking lots and other locations. Battery exchanges also relate to the government's effort to create a unified transportation card system. The government plans to invest NT $500 million to achieve a nationally integrated "e-card" system by 2013, allowing Taiwan's transport passengers to use just one card on busses, MRT, and rail.
Taiwan's high-speed rail reached new record highs in ridership this past year, averaging over 100,000 riders a day in 2010 for the first time since its opening. Taiwan's conventional rail also experienced its first expansion in 30 years. The new line will connect Tainan's HSR station to the downtown area, supplementing an existing shuttle bus route and reducing travel time.
The EPA made international headlines with its plan for more sustainable pig farming practices. Taiwan's 6 million pigs are a drain on fresh water resources and a source of air and water pollution. The EPA has recommended improved pig waste recycling practices to generate bioenergy and compost while reducing pollution. Taiwan has also committed itself to food sustainability overseas. The Taiwanese government donated US $641 million to Central American nations in an effort to spread Taiwan's knowledge of aquaculture and replenishment of fish stocks.
Taiwan Sustainable Cities has been named one of the winners in the 2010 Taiwan Best Blog Awards! Thank you to all readers and enjoy a wonderful 2011.