Institute recommends solar power as nuclear alternative

By Ted Chen, The China Post

Research institute TrendForce (集邦) yesterday recommended that Taiwan reconsider solar power as a viable alternative energy source, amid the ongoing debate over the future of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The government should concentrate its efforts in promoting solar power by increasing subsidies for home-based solar panels for the public instead of building solar power plants, the institute said, citing the results of an analysis.

TrendForce indicated that due to its geographical attributes, Taiwan has on average only four daily hours of direct exposure to sunlight for photovoltaic panels not equipped with costly solar-tracking devices.

Building a solar power plant to match the amount of energy output of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is unfeasible due to the prohibitive costs involved, according to the research institute.

To match the 2,700 megawatt energy output of a nuclear plant, a solar power plant would need at least 10-gigawatt output, due to the fact that Taiwan has only four hours of direct sunlight exposure while nuclear plants can operate around-the-clock.

The cost of yielding the required output will require over NT$1 trillion in expenditure for land, materials and constructions, representing energy costs of NT$10 billion per 100 megawatts, and land requirements of over 200 square kilometers, said the institute.

TrendForce concluded that smaller-scale installations of solar panels on a home-by-home basis is the optimal option for Taiwan, and that the government may help the proliferation of household solar power use by offering attractive subsidies for the public.