Energy in Taiwan

Ya-Chun Jan
December 5, 2011

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2011

Taiwan is an island nation of about 23.1 million people, located 120 km off the southeastern coast of mainland China. Although by population it ranks as the 50th largest in the world, its overall energy consumption is ranked 21st at 110.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) in 2010. [1,2] Like other island nations, Taiwan's energy needs is heavily dependent on foreign energy supplies. In 2008, 99.3% of Taiwan's energy was imported. [3] This leaves Taiwan's energy security at high risk. Most of its oil is shipped from the Middle East and Western Africa, thus regional instabilities in those regions would negatively affect its oil supplies. [1] The potential of military conflict with China across the Taiwan Strait is an additional concern for Taiwan's energy security. Even though political tension with China appears to have eased since 2008 with the election of a China-friendly government in Taiwan, the continuing Chinese naval buildup and increasing missile deployment aimed at Taiwan serve as constant reminders that there still exists a military threat. [4] To decrease dependence on foreign energy, combined with the fact that indigenous fossil fuel supplies have been largely exhausted in the past decade, a series of policies and measures have been implemented by the Taiwanese government to promote the use, and increase the capacity of, renewable energies. [3]

Energy Supply and Consumption Trends

Type KLOE MTOE % of Total
Crude Oil and Petroleum Products 7.05 × 106 64.82 49.47
Coal, coal-related 4.62 × 107 42.48 32.42
Natural Gas 1.34 × 107 12.32 9.40
Nuclear Power 1.18 × 107 10.87 8.29
Hydropower 4.12 × 105 0.38 0.29
Solar Thermal 1.10 × 105 0.10 0.08
Solar PV and Wind 5.67 × 104 0.05 0.04
Total 1.42 × 108 131.02 100.00
Table 1: Taiwan's energy supply in 2008. [3]

In 2008, Taiwan's total energy supply was 142.5 million kiloliters of oil equivalent (KLOE), or 131.02 MTOE. Total consumption for that year was 117.7 million KLOE, or 108.21 MTOE. [3] Table 1 shows the supply amount for each category of energy and its contribution to the entire supply. Crude oil and petroleum products account for nearly half of the energy source. 91.3% of the energy came from fossil fuels (excluding nuclear fuel). Renewable sources of energy, comprising of hydropower, solar photovoltaic (solar PV), wind, solar thermal and biopower, represented only about 0.6% of the total supply. Similar to other industrialized nations like the U.S., Taiwan relies on a high percentage of fossil fuels for its energy needs. The total CO2 emissions from combusting fossil fuels in 2008 was 256.97 million tonnes, which ranks it among the top 25 in the world for per capita CO2 emissions. [1,3]

Type KLOE MTOE % of Total
Crude Oil and Petroleum Products 5.02 × 106 46.2 41.81
Coal, coal-related 4.38 × 107 40.3 36.47
Natural Gas 1.38 × 107 12.7 11.49
Nuclear Power 1.02 × 107 9.4 8.51
Hydropower 9.79 × 105 0.9 0.81
Remaining Renewables 1.09 × 106 1.0 0.90
Total 1.20 × 108 110.5 100.00
Table 2: Taiwan's energy consumption in 2010. [2]

In 2010, the total consumption of energy was 110.5 MTOE. [3] Table 2 shows the breakdown by energy type.

Since 2000, the Taiwanese government began implementing numerous measures to subsidize solar PV and wind power. The capacity of these two sources increased from 100 KLOE (91.9 TOE) in 2000 to 56.7 thousand KLOE (52.1 thousand TOE) in 2008. [3]

Renewable Energy Policy

Type KLOE MTOE % of Total
Hydropower 4.12 × 105 0.38 47.78
Biopower 2.84 × 105 0.26 32.93
Solar Thermal 1.10 × 105 0.10 12.71
Solar PV and Wind 5.67 × 104 0.05 6.58
Total 8.62 × 105 0.79 100.00
Table 3: Taiwan's renewable energy capacity in 2008. [3]

Most of the suitable hydropower sites in Taiwan have already been developed, so its push for additional renewables capacity will mostly come from solar and wind projects. [1] Table 3 shows the breakdown of renewable energy supply. The total was 0.86 million KLOE (0.79 MTOE), or 0.6% of the total 2008 supply.

In 2008, Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) released a document called the "Framework of Taiwan's Sustainable Energy Policy" that outlines several short-term to mid-term measures to deal with energy efficiency and CO2 emissions reduction. Some of the goals include [1,5]:

In July 2009, the Statute for Renewable Energy Development was passed to promote the use of renewable energy, increase energy diversification, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The main goal is to increase the renewable energy capacity by 6.5 GW to 10 GW within 20 years. The categories of technologies which the Statute encompasses are solar energy, ocean energy, wind power, biofuels, geothermal energy, non-pump and storage hydropower, and renewable hydrogen power. The increased capacity will be accomplished by introducing feed-in tariffs systems and grid-connection services for electricity generated by these technologies. The Statute authorizes the government to provide incentives for the use and development of renewables technologies. Some of these incentives include government funding, giving profit to operators of renewable generating equipment and distributors of electricity generated from such equipment, funding support for demonstration projects involving renewable technologies, and loosening of regulatory restrictions. The Statute also created a renewable energy development fund that is partly funded by operators of fossil and nuclear fuels. [1,5]

From 2010-2015, the Taiwanese government is preparing to invest $1.47 billion USD to promote renewable energy usage as well as its research and development. This is approximately 0.35% of Taiwan's 2010 GDP, comparable to the U.S.'s 0.45% of GDP investment in renewables. The Ministry of Interior also announced $100 million USD investment in green architecture, which is projected to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.46 million tonnes. [1]

© Ya-Chun Jan. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] B. Fox, "Why Taiwan's Sustainable Energy Policy Matters," Consilience 6, 210 (2011).

[2] "BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2011," British Petroleum, June 2011.

[3] W.-T. Tsai, "Energy Sustainability from Analysis of Sustainable Development Indicators: A Case Study in Taiwan," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 14 2131 (2010).

[4] H.-M. Tien and C.-Y. Tung, "Taiwan in 2010: Mapping for a new Political Landscape and Economic Outlook," Asian Survey 51, 76 (2011).

[5] J. J. Huang, "Promotional Policy for Renewable Energy Development in Taiwan," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14, 1079 (2010).