The Need to Shake Off the Shackles of Taiwan's High Carbon Energy Structure

There are five major characteristics of Taiwan's current energy situation:


1. A major consumer of coal in the world

  • Due to the ever increasing demands of industrial energy consumption and the sluggish development of renewable energy, Taiwan therefore ranks 11th globally in terms of coal consumption, and 4th in terms of net coal imports.


2. The significant energy consumption in the industrial sector

  • When compared globally, Taiwan's industrial energy consumption of total energy consumption ranks the 4th highest in the world. When comparing with other developed countries and the neighboring countries in Asia, Taiwan's total energy consumption per unit of GDP is three times that of Japan and Germany, and two times that of Singapore.


3. Cheap and unreasonable energy prices

  • According to the 2018 data released by the International Energy Agency's (IEA) ,1 when comparing data on Taiwan's electricity price with the neighboring countries in Asia, Taiwan's residential electricity prices were the 3rd lowest in the world in 2017, while its industrial electricity prices were 6th lowest .2


4. The high risks of nuclear power

  • The four nuclear power plants in Taiwan are one of the very few nuclear reactor sites in the world that are simultaneously vulnerable to the triple threats of earthquakes, tsunamis and floods .3 When comparing the exposed populations around reactor sites, Taiwan's first and second nuclear plants rank among the top three in terms of the number of people residing within 30km of the reactor stations .4


5. The poor results in Taiwan's promotion of renewable energy

  • Despite Taiwan having introduced a renewable energy feed-in tariff system in 2010, renewable energy as a proportion of the overall power composition remains at only about 1%; this is in contrast to Japan which after adopting a similar renewable energy feed-in tariff system in 2012, has seen its renewable energy increase to more than 5% in five years.


These five major characteristics therefore reveal that Taiwan's economic development is built on a high carbon structure; and thus, on the path of low carbon transition and long-term carbon reduction, it is vital for Taiwan to break free from this high carbon structure of development in order to reduce the risks of climate change.



1 IEA(2018). "World energy balances" Paris: International Energy Agency.

2 TaiPower Company (2019) Comparison of Electricity Prices across Countries.

3 Maplecroft (2011). "Nuclear Risk Map.";Rodriguez-Vidal, J. Rodriguez-Llanes,JM., Guha-Sapir, D. (2012). "Civil nuclear power at risk of tsunamis." Natural Hazards 63 (2): 1273.

4 Butler D.(2011). "Nuclear safety: reactors, residents and risk." Nature;472: 400-–01.