Energy Czar Needed to Implement Energy Transformation

In the energy section of the 2018 Taiwan White Paper  recently released by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, the Chamber’s Energy Committee calls for the appointment of an “energy czar” to oversee the government’s efforts to redirect Taiwan’s electrical power generation away from reliance on nuclear and fossil fuels.

By 2025, according to the goals set by the Taiwan government, the island’s power grid is to be fueled 50% by liquefied natural gas (LNG), 30% by coal, and 20% by renewable resources such as wind and solar.

The Energy Committee recommends that a panel of outside experts be gathered to create a “National Energy Plan,” similar to the Quadrennial Energy Review undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Committee suggests the panel be responsible for such tasks as:

  • Assessing the risk of relying so heavily on imported LNG, since factors such as bad weather and military blockades could interfere with incoming shipments.
  • Ensuring Taiwan has adequate energy reserves in the event of shortages caused by natural fluctuation in the renewable energy sector.
  • Addressing air pollution concerns resulting from fossil-fuel generated power.

Under the Committee’s proposal, the “energy czar” would head an Energy Task Force to “manage the implementation of energy policies and coordinate the work of different agencies.” This would be a national security level position, independent of any specific government ministry and reporting directly to the Premier.

Energy policy implementation requires communication and cooperation among many different government agencies, the Committee notes. The Energy Task Force, since it would not be part of any given agency, would be well-equipped to facilitate such collaboration and coordination, and positioning it under the “energy czar” would enhance its efficiency. The Committee also called for creating a cohesive and specific roadmap for implementation of the National Energy Plan, with timelines to ensure that schedules are met.

Another point raised by the Committee is the need to encourage innovative solutions to energy problems. Under current practice, the project owners among government agencies or state-owned enterprises may have inflexible approaches that potentially exclude new and emerging technologies.

The Energy Committee also recommends fostering more public-private partnerships (PPP) in the energy sector. In many other countries the private sector plays a much larger role in providing energy development than it does in Taiwan. Making greater use of PPPs could improve infrastructure and make it easier to meet the island’s energy needs. The Committee suggests that the mandate of the Energy Task Force include finding ways to attract such private developers and investors.

For the full White Paper on energy in Taiwan, click here.