Energy Transition in Taiwan

From energypedia

Energy Transition in Taiwan: The Overall Goal

Taiwan is ongoing its energy transition. The transition will highlight a rapid growth of renewable electricity capacity and generation, but many other sectors such as transportation, building, and manufacture sectors will also be involved. The goal of this transition process is to ultimately meet Taiwan's own Intended National Determined Contribution published in 2015[1] and "Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act"(溫室氣體減量及管理法)[2], which stated that compared to 2005, annual carbon emission should be reduced by 20% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This is a reduction of about 53 Million tonnes of CO2 eq by 2030 and 133 Million tonnes by 2050.

Compared to other East Asia countries, this goal was quite ambitious in the beginning. As a reference, previously South Korea only promised to tame its annual carbon emission to around 535 Million tonnes of CO2 eq by 2030, which is roughly the same level as 2005[3]. However, as neighbor nations started to speed up their commitments to climate action, Taiwan is gradually losing its leading edge on this matter. For example, South Korea has adopted a far more ambitious renewable expansion plan[4] and the green new deal[5]; it will also achieve climate neutrality by 2050[6]. In addition, many of the policy goals in Taiwan still lack integration between governmental departments[7].

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 emission goals might be achieved, but few environmental groups are satisfied by this short term effect and most call for a "green recovery" after the epidemic fade away[8]. Fortunately, recent discussions of net zero emission by mid century from neighboring nations provide an opportunity for more ambitious reduction goals.

Sectors 2015 Carbon Emissions (Mtonne CO2e) 2020 Carbon Emissions Goal (Mtonne CO2e)
Carbon Emission Change 2015-2020 Carbon Emission Reduction Contribution
Energy 31.060 32.305 4.0% -55.6%
Manufacture 147.775 146.544 -0.8% 55.0%
Transportation 37.279 37.211 -0.2% 3.0%
Building 59.077 57.530 -2.6% 69.1%
Agriculture 5.344 5.318 -0.5% 1.2%
Environment 4.109 3.496 -14.9% 27.4%
Carbon Emission Intensity of Electricity
(kg CO2e/ kWh)
0.528 0.492 -6.8% NA

Energy Transition in Taiwan: Energy Sector

Nuclear Phaseout

Historically, nuclear power provided up to 50% of the electricity in the mid 1980s. Since then, its share in the electricity generation portfolio has gradually decreased, even without a phaseout plan. Between 2000 and 2014, nuclear provided around 20% of the electricity demand on the island[9].

As a neighbor of Japan and also located on the ring of fire, the public opposition of nuclear power in Taiwan grew significant after the Fukushima incident in 2011. The rally for a nuclear phaseout plan attracted some 200,000 people to go to the streets in 2013[10]. Therefore by 2015, all major political parties that participated the president election in the following year promised to phase-out all existing nuclear power plants during their campaign[11].

Nuclear phaseout remains a consensus among the major parties in the parliament after 2016. even when some nuclear proponents continue to link the issues of grid management failures and industrial air pollution to the lack of nuclear power throughout the years, their efforts remained limited.

Part of the reason why the policy remain highly consensus is because of the subtle geopolitical structure Taiwan currently has. The major opposition party, the KMT, have the most potential voters in the New Taipei City where strong anti-nuclear sentiments persist because of the 3 existing or planned nuclear power plants within[12]. Meanwhile smaller progressive parties in the oppostion such as New Power Party have voters with higher environmental awareness in general, and of the 5 legislators New Power Party have, one also came out from New Taipei City. Similar as in Germany, there exists almost no political niche in Taiwan for any political faction to reverse the policy, though recently nuclear advocates do manage to launch a referendum on abolishing articles regarding nuclear phase out in the electricity act[13]. However, it is still politically, legally, and in some cases technically impossible that nuclear power in Taiwan have a chance to exist after 2025.

Reactor Planned Date for the Start of Decommission Status
NPP 1, Reactor 1 December 2018 Permanently Shut Down and Preparing for Decommission
NPP 1, Reactor 2
July 2019 Permanently Shut Down and Preparing for Decommission
NPP 2, Reactor 1
December 2021 Permanently Shut Down and Preparing for Decommission
NPP 2, Reactor 2
March 2023 Permanently Shut Down and Preparing for Decommission
NPP 3, Reactor 1
July 2024 In Service
NPP 3, Reactor 2
May 2025 In Service
NPP 4, Reactor 1
NA Construction Halted and License Expired
NPP 4, Reactor 2
NA Construction Halted and License Expired

Renewable Capacity Expansion Plans

After the more conservative Chinese Nationalist (KMT) government was replaced in 2016, the democratic progressive party led government increased the target and speed of deployment of renewable energy significantly as soon as it sworn in. The following sources of renewable energy are planned to increase capacity significantly by 2025: solar, offshore wind, biogas, onshore wind, and geothermal. Below is a chart of the current status[14] and goals of expansion[15]:

Type of Renewables Current Capacity
(as of Dec. 2023)
Planned Capacity by 2025 Planned Capacity by 2030 / 2035 Planned Capacity by 2050
Solar 12.418GW 20.00GW 30.00 GW by 2030 40 - 80 GW
Onshore Wind 0.911GW 1.200GW No formal announcement yet No formal announcement yet
Offshore Wind 1.763GW 5.700GW 20.70GW by 2035 40 - 55 GW
Bioenergy and Waste 0.714GW 0.778GW 0.805 - 1.329 GW by 2030 No formal announcement yet
Geothermal 0.007GW 0.020GW 0.056 - 0.192 GW by 2030 No formal announcement yet
alt = VRE Capacity Expansion in Taiwan since 2010.png

The different attitudes towards renewable expansion has been quite clear between the former and current government; for example, the official assessment during the KMT era was that Taiwan's maximum solar PV potential by 2030 would be 6.2 GW[16]; that figure was reached early 2021. Nevertheless, an important indicator of whether the current expansions will go accordingly to the plan is the achieving rates of the mid-term goal by 2020. For example, solar should reach 6.5 GW by that year; in the end due to the corona pandemic Taiwan fell short of almost 0.7 GW to that goal.

The government also plans to expand offshore wind capacity 1.5GW per year between 2026 and 2035, resulting a total capacity of 21 GW by 2035[17]. Besides such plan, no further official renewable policy after 2025 is yet announced.

Coal and Carbon Emission

The goal of short term carbon emission reduction in the energy sector is to be tamed at around 32.305 MtCO2e by 2020, which would be roughly the same as in 2005 (but slightly increased when compared to 2015)[18]. The total carbon emissions of electricity in Taiwan is planned to peak in 2017 at 271 Million tonnes CO2 eq, and reduced to 239 Million tonnes CO2 eq[19].

In the recent years, coal use in electrcity generation stagnates at around 45%. The government promised that the share of coal use in electricty generation peaks in 2017, and by 2020 it will be tamed to no more than 43%[20].

In the mid term, the goal of renewable sources in electricity generation share is 20% by 2025. Meanwhile, coal use is to be reduced to 30%, compared to 45% in 2016. The carbon emission intensity of electricity generation is to be reduced from 0.529 kg CO2 eq/kWh in 2016 to 0.394 kg CO2 eq/kWh by 2025[19]. The carbon emission intensity of electricity generation in Taiwan in 2019 was 0.509 kg CO2 eq/kWh.[21]

To reduce coal use, many existing coal power plants will be turned to gas power plants, and hard coal power plants are expected to operate more flexibly in the future.

Prognosis of Residual Load and Dispatch Schemes

According to the International Energy Agency, up until now there exist four phases of integrating variable renewables onto the grid[22]. With about 1% of electricity generated by solar and wind, Taiwan had been in the first phase in the last years, when grid integration was still not a major problem for renewable energy sources. Even as Taiwan starts to enter phase two recently, the effects of variable renewables are still relatively minor. For example, the solar eclipse on 21 June 2020 saw some of the greatest ramping rates of solar in the power system so far, yet this did not cause any significant impact on the grid.

However, if 20GW of solar is installed as planned by 2025, the residual load curve will change drastically and Taiwan will be deep in phase two of VRE integration. By then, conventional power plants will have to vary their output accordingly. Also, the risk of congestion in transmission lines must be analyze beforehand, and weak spots in the power system must be strengthened in prior.

According to the network operators in Taiwan, most flexibility requirements by 2025 can be dealt without major retrofit of the system; the risk of congestion mainly lies in central Taiwan and therefore the transmission lines there will be strengthened[23].

Below is the power output curve a possible dispatch scheme may result to by summer 2025[24].The hard coal power plants might have to ramp more flexibly in the future in order to adjust to the residual load variations, and this result to a reduction of coal use to around 26% in this scenario. The carbon emission intensity in this scenario was 0.396 kg CO2 eq/kWh, very close to the policy goal.

Simulated VRE Output and Residual Load in Taiwan by summer 2025.png

While wind power is weaker in summer, it will be more stronger in winter. Since the solar radiation in southern Taiwan remains strong even in winter, the first negative residaul load events would probably happen at noon in winter by around 2025 to 2030. By then Taiwan would have to start dealing with phase three problems described by IEA. Rough estimations suggest that the residual load in Taiwan by winter 2025 would be 7.5GW(weekday) or 1.5GW(weekend) at noon[24].As an isolated island, Taiwan will not be able to export electricity surplus during these events; this, however, doesn't imply that it is impossible for an island to reach and go beyond phase three. Many islands with inadaquate interconnections such as Ireland or Hawaii has already been dealing with challenges of this phase[25].

Energy Transition in Taiwan: Transportation Sector

In 2017, the Taiwanese government pledged to ban the sell of combustion engine motorcycles by 2035 and cars by 2040[26]; however, due to the opposition of the automobile industry, the ban was cancelled in 2019[27].  Nevertheless, the electrification of the sector continues to be carried out. Recent studies from energy policies experts and power system operators showed the impact of this electrification to electricity demand is very limited (less than 6% of current value), but if well implemented it will increase the flexibility of the power system as a whole (since parking electric vechicles can be a potential storage option)[28][29].

In particular, the electrification of motorcycles, the most common private transportation vehicle in Taiwan, might take up the leading role. Taiwanese E-Motor brands, such as Gogoro, has already become a global pioneer in the field. Also, it is planning to use its storage capacity (currently 560MW) to provide flexibility services to the grid in the future[30].

In the short term, diesel engine vehicles will be the very first to be regulated and banned[31]. In the local level, some cities are already banning these vehicles the right to access certain areas[32].

Energy Transition in Taiwan: Building Sector

Energy efficiency will be highly promoted in the building sector. For example, governmental buildings are usually ill-performed regarding its energy usage intensity[33], and the governmental goal is to improve the efficiency of these buildings such that they perform in line with the official EUI standards[34]. New constructions will also face stricter energy efficiency requirements. Overall, the planned short term carbon emission reduction in this sector is greater than those in energy, transportation, and manufature sectors.

However, energy experts and building energy analysts criticized the lack of concrete implementation regarding this sector, and doubt if the goals can truly be achieved. Governmental faculties contribute only a small fraction of the existing buildings. Also, the life expectency of a building is about 40 years in Taiwan, so giving higher energy efficiency stardards to new constructions cannot help much in the short term. The success of decarbonization of this sector will rely heavily upon policies regarding existing residential and commercial buildings (for example a success implementation of Minimum Energy Performance Standard for those buildings), which experts considered insufficient.

Energy Transition in Taiwan: Agriculture Sector

The policies in agriculture sector include a boost of biogas (50% of the stock will be used by 2020 and 75% by 2030)[34], an increase of organic farmiing, and a sustainable forestry system that is self resilience and does not rely too much in import woods.

Energy Transition in Taiwan: Environment Sector

Apart from the building sector, the environment sector will contribute to most of the carbon emission reduction before 2020. It is mainly around the establishment of a circular economy and waste reduction[34].

Other Related Aspects

Divestment from Fossil Fuel

The government promised to reveal the total amount of public subsidy towards fossil fuel industries. It also promised to reveal the public investment portfolio in high carbon emission industries. These are essential steps that should eventually lead to a divestment movement, as seen in Ireland[35] and New York[36]A nationalwide divestment movement have become more possible after the divestment movement at the campus of National Taiwan University[37] [38] gained concrete results and therefore demonstrated the feasibility of such strategy to others on the island. 

Public Support and Participatory Democracy

According to a poll in 2015, about two thirds of the surveyed population in Taiwan agreed with the current policy to replace coal with gas, and more than three fourths of them also supported the view that alternative energy sources besides conventional power plants can reduce total carbon emissions. 85.1% of them agreed to pay a higher electricity retailer price to boost the growth of renewable sources. Regarding divestment issues, although the polls on fossil fuel subsidies was more polarized, more than two thirds of the people agreed that the government should levy higher taxes for environmental purposes, and 73.8% of them also believed that enterprises were not taking full social responsibilities[39].

A poll in March 2017 showed that 92.1% of the surveyed population supported the policy to boost renewable energy[40]. Another poll in April 2020 showed that 78.5% of the surveyed population agreed upon the current renewable energy target (20% electricity share by 2025)[41].

Besides the high support for energy transition, many environmental organizations have long demand a more transparent and participatory mechanism to discuss the policy goal and implementations of the transition process. This led to results such as the participatory process of writing the Energy Transition Whitepaper[42]. In the local level, some municipal governments have already shown great interests in cooperating with grass root organization in matters regarding energy efficiency and air pollution.


Gas Lock-in and Risks of Stranded Carbon Assets

According to the state-owned utility Taipower's own plan, by 2028 they will be operating some 25GW of gas power plants[43]. This does not include the nine IPP owned by private companies, which would be about 9GW if all of them are turned to gas power plants as local governments often require recently. Although these plans are in line with the mid term transition plans to replace coal with gas in the electricity sector, in the long run electricity generation from gas in Taiwan will have to eventually decrease around 2030[44]. The risk of over-capacity beyond 2025 is putting these power plants in the risks of becoming stranded carbon assets.

While gas power plants can theorotically run with green hydrogen in the long term to mitigate such risk, gas terminal and many infrastructures for the import of conventional gas are subject to more significant risk of becoming stranded assets. The recent controversy around the construction of the Datan conventional gas terminal is perhaps one of the most famous example in this debate.

Uncertainties from Market Reformation

The electricity market reform began in 2016 and resulted in the reformation of the Electricity Law(電業法) in January 2017. The reformation of the Renewable Energy Development Act(再生能源發展條例) was also completed in April 2019[15].

Current reformations of the market are just to set the proper environment for renewables to grow. The more controversial parts of the reformation were not discussed and remain uncertain to this date. For example, a main public debate is that whether or not the vertically integrated utility Taipower should give up its conventional power plant fleet, and if so, should the new owner(s) be state-owned, municipal, or private owned[45]

Lack of Community-Owned Projects and Individual Participation

Although public participation in the transition process was stressed by environmental and local groups, the legislation structure currently is still far from friendly for community or individually owned projects. For example, the electricty act still prohibits renewable energy prosumers from selling excess electricity to anyone other than the public utility, while self-consumption involving grid usage cannot sell excess electricity at all. This causes tensions between local communities and renewable project companies, who get the main economical profits of the renewable expansions.

Lack of Long Term Pathways / Goals Beyond 2025/30

The current legal-binding renewable expansion targets only reach 2025. After that, it is still uncertain how Taiwan will evolve to a deeply-decarbonized society by 2050. Currently the "Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act"(溫室氣體減量及管理法) is undergoing amendment so that the goals can be more effectively achieved (especially on the topic of carbon tax)[46]. Net zero emission pathways and goals are now also on the table for discussion.[47]

See Also

Energy Transition Worldwide

Renewables are blooming; is the power system ready? A Prognosis on Residual Load Flexibility in Taiwan by 2025

File:Energy Transition in Taiwan.pdf

File:Assessment of Impacts and Mitigation Approaches on Near Term Coal Reduction and Power System Dispatch of Datan Conventional Gas Terminal.pdf


  1. 中華民國(臺灣)「國家自定預期貢獻」,
  2. 溫室氣體減量及管理法,
  3. South Korea Climate Tracker,
  4. S. Korea unveils draft plan to foster renewable energy,
  5. South Korea to implement Green New Deal after ruling party election win,
  6. South Korea declares climate emergency, sets net zero target for 2050,
  7. 加速建構轉型量能,邁向深度低碳社會 「溫室氣體減量推動方案」研擬建議,
  8. 綠色紓困,台灣跟上世界--環境零傷害 投資綠產業,
  9. 台灣用電來源結構分析,
  10. 「廢核已是主流民意,非核家園則是全民共識」20萬人 上街喊廢核,
  11. 非核家園成口號? 朱、蔡、宋政見空泛挨批,
  12. 朱立倫:2025年非核家園絕非口號, The KMT mayor of New Taipei City, Chu, promised to phase out nuclear by 2025.
  13. Energy Transition in Taiwan: A Rising Success or a Doomed Failure?
  14. 能源統計月報,
  15. 15.0 15.1 再生能源修正草案三讀通過,2025 綠電目標 27GW 入法 , In the reform of the Renewable Energy Law, the goal of achieving at least 27GW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 was formally legalized.
  16. 6.2 GW was the maximum potential estimated by the government's think tank. See sources such as It was never made clear by the former government whether future expansion plans would be possible after this potential was reached.
  17. 經部規劃2026年到2035年,離岸風電10年10GW目標,預期價格將低於平均售電價格,
  18. 第一期溫室氣體階段管制目標,
  19. 19.0 19.1 「能源轉型 減汙減碳」記者會, Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "「能源轉型 減汙減碳」記者會" defined multiple times with different content
  20. 燃煤電廠將減少運轉,經部改口2020年燃煤佔比降至43%,
  21. 108年度電力排碳係數,
  22. Getting Wind and Sun onto the Grid,
  23. 新能源政策下之電網規劃, a document revealed by Taipower in early December 2017
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Flexibility, Residual Load , & Re-dispatchment", Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Flexibility, Residual Load , & Re-dispatchment" defined multiple times with different content
  25. Ireland plans to have 42.5% of electricity produced from RES by 2020,; Hawaii already has 26.6% of electricity from RES,
  26. 賴揆:2035機車全面電動化 2040汽車全面電動化,
  27. 「2035年禁售燃油機車」政策 確定轉彎,
  28. Total electrification of transportation sector raise electricity demand by about 5% ,
  29. 【2040電動車化】供電受影響? 台電估:全部電動車化也不怕,
  30. 【快訊】用多少繳多少!Gogoro 推出「自由省」新資費方案,
  31. The Largest Scale Amendments to Taiwan's Air Pollution Control Act Since 2002
  32. 二行程機車及老舊柴油車,7 月起北市特定區域無法行駛!,
  33. In this article, it was revealed that a campus library has an EUI 72.5% higher than the official standard.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 溫室氣體減量推動方案(草案),
  35. Ireland is completely divesting from fossil fuels,
  36. New York city divests from fossil fuel,
  37. 臺大學生會永續部對校長候選人之校務基金應採責任投資之訴求,
  38. 台大成亞洲撤資首例,未來我們仍須努力,
  39. 2015 臺灣大學氣候變遷調查 摘要報告, 灣大學社會科學院風險社會與政策研究中心
  40. 2017 氣候變遷與能源民意調查,
  41. 2020能源轉型公眾感知度調查報告,
  43. Retirement and Installation of Large Scale Conventional Power Plants 2017-2028 ,
  44. 加速建構轉型量能,邁向深度低碳社會 「溫室氣體減量推動方案」研擬建議,
  45. 電力市場自由化,Yes or No? 國營/民營是非題之外的修法方向討論 , This is a thorough review of the debate during the reformation of electricity law.
  46. 《溫管法》修法牛步遭批 環保署擬制定碳費、增氣候調適專章 ,