Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, a Portuguese term that means “beautiful island” is indeed a fine island state. It is located in the southern coast of China 180 degrees south of China. The East China Sea is located on the north side of Taiwan, the Philippine Sea at the east, Luzon Strait at the south and the South China Sea at the southwest. With the vast waters surrounding the beautiful island, the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy has seen a great potential for the surrounding waters as a source of renewable energy and they were proud to share this good news to everyone.
The country of Taiwan, though small is suffering from heavy pollution because of the high population density and the great number of factories present here. Some of these come from their coal and petroleum deposits, which are a great part of their energy resources. However, Taiwan is now turning to greener ways and renewable energy. They have tapped into using solar and wind power as part of their efforts to become more environment-friendly. They are now utilizing the abundance of wind energy resources available which resulted in wind farms found on and off-shore. Although the limited land area for wind farms makes the off-shore type more favorable.
If there was another energy resource that is abundant in Taiwan, aside from wind power, it is the surrounding waters. Taiwan has now initiated the gradual energy transition. The island state now is considering going the way towards the renewable energy sources because it has been heavily reliant on fossil fuel for energy. Taiwan has been predominantly sensitive to energy price fluctuations due to the fact that roughly all the fossil fuel they are using are all imported.
In relation to this, the Ministry of Economic Affair’s Bureau of Energy held an international symposium on marine energy in Tapei last April 22, 2011. According to the Bureau of Energy officials, the seminar invited local and foreign experts who have shed some light onto the harnessing of the power of ocean tides, waves, currents, and temperature differences by sharing their ideas and even experiences on the matter. The Bureau of Energy aims to produce or generate some 200 megawatts of electricity from the energy resources through the available marine energy resources by 2025. The Taiwanese government is offering its full support on the potential energy that can be utilized from the surrounding waters of the island state.
Aside from the symposium held, Taiwan is also launched a 2,700-ton ocean research vessel last June 13 of the same year the seminar was held. It was launched in the southern port of Kaohshiung as part of the continuous efforts of the island state to open a new chapter in their ocean research. The vessel is called Ocean Research V and it is the largest to be launched by the nation. It will play a great and crucial role in studying the weather, ocean floor exploration and alternative energy research according to Yang Yih from the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute.
Ocean Research V is a vessel which was built robustly in order to withstand up to 40 knots of waves that are results of strong winds. It was designed to stay on the seas for 60 days. The characteristic of the vessel of strong resistance allows the research to continue even if it was winter season. With the initiatives that the whole nation has put in it, the vessel has underwater robots that are capable of diving deep. The robots can go as deep as 3,000 meters underwater.
The vessel is tasked to unlock the potential for energy offered by the waters around the island state. It will also be tasked to research on earthquakes and tsunamis by drilling the seabed. The whole research effort does not only involve the Ocean Research V, there are three other ships that will be alongside the mission to research on these alternative energy resources. There is Ocean Research I, II and III that will undertake tasks and projects in unison with the furthering of the competences of Taiwan’s marine science and technology.
After the successful launch of the Ocean Research V, Taiwan Bureau of Energy has announced last August 22 that they are now aiming to have a renewable energy capacity of 8,450 MW in 2025. It will be equivalent to 15 percent of the total power they have. Taiwan’s oceans naturally has a power generating potential of 10GW this is why it will not be hard to harness the 15 percent which will roughly be equal to 200MW. The Bureau of Energy has said that they are looking into the rich energy sources such as tidal, wave and even ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC.
Currently with the research and development on the way, the island state is looking into the use of the ocean thermal energy conversion. This energy resource will be appropriate in the eastern Taiwan regions. There are open seas that surround the areas like Hualien and Taitung in this region. In using the OTEC or ocean thermal energy conversion, there is a need to have a 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit difference in the top warm layer from the deep cold layer of water. The waters in this region in Taiwan fit such required condition because the top layer and the layer 1,000 meters below surface can reach 20 degrees Celsius.
Tidal power on one end is suited for the northeast region of Taiwan. This area has open seas that have tides that reach up to 10kW/m. The use of the waters around the island state does not end there because the island state is looking to maximize the available regions where water is available. They are also looking into using wave power on the waterways available at the eastern and western regions. On the eastern part, the Kuroshio Current is being considered. On the western part, the waterway around the small isles called Penghu islands.
Taiwan, although a small island nation is now looking into the available renewable sources of energy that will not only lessen the volume of pollution that they have but will also help their economy. It is wise to use different approaches of harnessing the potential energy being offered by the surrounding waters. This is just a great example on how investing in green energy will not only help boost the economy but will also help prevent further destruction of the environment. In order to complete the success of Taiwan’s efforts, their studies should also include the right way of harnessing energy from the ocean otherwise all the great steps they have taken will be no good. As rich as it is, the ocean has a lot of uses as people can imagine and this is just what Taiwan’s announcement has made known to many.