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History of Driving the Wind

Among the renewable power generation technologies, wind power technology is quite mature besides hydroelectric power and solar photovoltaic technologies. Taiwan is situated at the junction of continental plate and ocean. The average wind velocity of the strong northeast monsoon exceeds 4 meters per second each year, making many areas along the coast of the island of Taiwan and offshore islands have quite abundant wind energy so as to make Taiwan a place with great wind power potential.

Taiwan has already proceeded with wind energy development and application in the early 1960s. Taiwan Power Company (TPC) once conducted wind power generation application and testing in Baisha Township, Penghu County. The installed capacity of wind turbines at that time was 50 kW. Since efficiency of wind power generation was not significant, in-depth studies of wind power was discontinued. Except for relevant academic research, wind power has not been widely used in Taiwan due to inadequate economic incentives and lack of development efforts from enterprises.

Until 1980 that renewable energy development was gradually taken seriously in response to energy crisis. In order to actively promote the use of domestic wind power, Energy Commission (predecessor of Bureau of Energy), Ministry of Economic Affairs commissioned the Energy and Resources Research Laboratories (ERRL, predecessor of Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories) of Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) at that time to conduct assessment of wind energy potential in different zones and establish capability of wind turbine development technology. As a result, ERRL completed in succession development and operation test of 4 kW, 40 kW and 150 kW wind turbines in the wind power test field in Hukou Township, Hsinchu County. Design, building and testing of the wind turbine system were completed prior to 1991. Domestic technology development and local content rate of parts and components reached 80 % at that time. Although the result was still a long way to materialize commercial promotion and application, the technology was not inferior to the technology of other countries at that time. However, international energy prices were on the low side at that time and the cost of wind power was still high. Due to lack of economic benefits, wind turbine research and development were suspended after completing the phased development.

In 2000, the government actively promoted the use of clean energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emission generated by traditional power generation and protect the environment. The "Regulations Governing Wind Power Demonstration System Setting Subsidies" was promulgated to provide subsidy for equipment. The first wind farm receiving the subsidy was the "Mailiao Wind Power Demonstration System" located near the No. 6 Naphtha Cracker Complex (Mailiao) of Formosa Petrochemical Corp. in Mailiao Township, Yulin County. The Demonstration System was officially launched on December 27, 2000. It was the first commercialized wind farm with an installed capacity of 2.64 MW. Its output power was incorporated into the power system of the No. 6 Naphtha Cracker Complex. TPC later established 2 demonstration systems in Zhongtun Township, Penghu County and at the Chupei factory of Cheng Loong Corp. (Andante Wind Power Demonstration System) respectively. The two demonstration systems were completed in succession in 2001 and 2004 and began commercial operations. The installed capacity was 2.4 MW and 3.5 MW respectively. These 3 wind power demonstration systems successfully drove TPC and other private corporations to put efforts into the development of onshore wind energy one after another.