Tai Fung Group Continues to Diversify on Renewable Energy

From its base in the petrochemical, power, and transportation sectors, the company has branched out into wine imports – and plans to add tea exports. 

The Taipei-based Tai Fung Group is one of Taiwan’s premier importers of advanced technology for the chemicals industry, as a well as a major supplier of catalysts, additives, and feedstocks.

Tai Fung’s customers include the biggest petrochemical producers in Taiwan, including the CPC Corp. and the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG). It has been involved in many of Taiwan’s most important chemical projects from process selection and engineering to construction and production support. Those projects include CPC refineries, including ethylene plants, fluid catalytic crackers (FCC), and residue fluid catalytic crackers (RFCC); power plants for the Taiwan Power Co. (TPC); and FPG’s 6th Naphtha Cracker Complex in Mailiao.

This year celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding in 1949, Tai Fung is among the few Taiwanese trading companies that has consistently imported advanced industrial technologies – for oil refining, petrochemical production, and power generation – into the Greater China region and continues to work on related projects today. Besides petrochemicals and energy, Tai Fung also is active in the transportation and consumer goods sectors.

In the transportation sector, Tai Fung is notable for having participated in the construction of some of Taiwan’s paramount infrastructure projects. These include the Taipei-Yilan Expressway, High-Speed Rail (HSR), Taoyuan International Airport, Pinling Tunnel, mass transit systems, and harbor planning.

Tai Fung is also active on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Its subsidiary Jackson International, established in China in 1993, imports equipment for petrochemical, power, and fertilizer plants, and serves as a supplier of fuel, catalysts, and catalyst regeneration and cryogenic pipeline material.

In addition, Tai Fung is actively exploring opportunities in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. “We follow our customers from Taiwan overseas and provide them with the most advanced imported technology to deploy in projects,” says Sean Hsu, Jackson International’s vice president.

He notes that early in its industrialization Taiwan was a major petrochemicals producer, but environmental concerns and limited capacity to scale up have reduced the island’s competitiveness in the industry. “There is no new heavy chemical development – no crude oil, no natural gas,” he says. “We cannot compete with China, the U.S., and the Middle East. We cannot build to adequate scale and profitability is limited.”

To be sure, Tai Fung remains active in Taiwan’s chemical sector, focusing on technology licensing, plant construction, and the sale of consumables and feedstocks. However, given the constraints on the domestic chemical industry, there are more promising opportunities overseas.

The U.S. is one market where Tai Fung sees strong growth potential. “The shale gas revolution has created a lot of upstream business opportunities and allowed the U.S. to become a net exporter of natural gas relatively quickly,” Hsu says. In this regard, Jackson is importing a large number of wellheads (the structure over an oil or gas well) into the U.S. for shale gas production.

Meanwhile, Tai Fung sees strong growth potential in Taiwan in renewable energy, a sector that has particularly strong government support. As part of its plan to eliminate nuclear power generation in Taiwan, the government has set ambitious targets for renewable energy development. It aims to have renewable sources account for 20% of the power supply by 2025 – up from about 5% in 2017.

To reach that target, Taiwan must build approximately 27 gigawatts of new renewable electricity capacity – primarily offshore wind and solar power, both of which are integral to Tai Fung’s energy business. The company is working on both public- and private-sector projects in Taiwan.

While Tai Fung’s focus is chiefly on B2B, it is steadily expanding its consumer business. Established in 2007, the consumer division includes the import of wine and other beverages from seven different countries for supply to retailers, restaurants, and airlines.

While the consumer business involves vastly different products from the B2B segments, there is a fundamental similarity: Tai Fung strives to bring the best from overseas to the local market, Hsu says. In line with objective, the company is preparing to open its first retail store near Taipei’s Songshan Cultural and Creative Park.

To further develop its consumer business, Tai Fung is turning its attention to tea exports. Given the high quality and excellent reputation of Taiwan’s tea, Hsu is upbeat about this initiative.

“We’ve always brought high-quality products into Taiwan, and now we have an opportunity to take something outstanding from Taiwan and introduce it to the global market,” he says. 

As another way to contribute to Taiwan’s economy, Tai Fung now is also exploring innovative industrial technologies from Taiwan with high potential. It plans to introduce them overseas through its network of contacts in the engineering petrochemical fields.

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