Not just Taiwan, but the whole world is currently at a critical moment in energy transition. With the increasing demand for green electricity, more and more governments or organizations are paying attention to the development of green and low-carbon energy. Among the developing technologies, wind power is the mainstay. The development of wind power not only promotes a solution for green energy electricity consumption, but also plays a key role in economic growth. The acceleration and momentum of wind powered electric generation has brought new opportunities in industrial upgrading and transformation that will drive the economy.
What Is Wind Power?
Wind Power electric generation can be divided into large-scale wind power generation and medium- and small-scale wind power generation. The two are generally classified as above or below 750 kW generation. Power generation with wind turbines whose power generation capacity exceeds 750 kW is classified as large-scale wind power generation.
Large-scale wind power generation can be further divided into onshore wind power and offshore wind power according to the installation location. The technical threshold of land-based wind power is relatively low, and the cost of power generation is relatively low. It is the mainstream renewable energy power generation technology. Newly installed, single-unit power generators have a capacity of about 2~4 MW. Offshore wind power is built on the seabed. Auxiliary equipment such as underwater foundation and submarine cables are required, and special workboats must be used for installation. The power generation cost is about two to three times that of land-based wind power. The newly installed mainstream single-unit power generation capacity falls between 6 to 9.5 MW.
Wind power industry category
The structure of the wind power industry can be divided into three parts: manufacturing, service, and power generation.
Global Wind Power Market and Industry Trends
- The global cumulative installed capacity of wind power is nearly 600 GW:
After 2010, the overall wind power market has moved from rapid growth to stable development, and the growth rate has dropped from 25% in 2010 to about 10% in 2018. The cumulative global installation volume exceeded 200 GW in 2011, 300 GW cumulatively in 2013, and 500 GW cumulatively in 2017. It is estimated that the cumulative installation volume will exceed 600GW by the end of 2019.
- Intensified competition in Europe; offshore wind power developers explore opportunities in emerging markets:
After 2010, the European offshore wind power market has gradually matured and competition has intensified. Some developers have begun to seek opportunities outside Europe. At the same time, Asian countries and the United States have shown interest in offshore wind power applications, which has become the next wave of development focus.
The source of new offshore wind power installation capacity in Asia is still dominated by China, but after 2020, Taiwan, India, Japan, and South Korea will join the ranks of large-scale offshore wind power development, contributing a lot to the new installations in Asia. Taiwan has allocated 5.5 GW of power purchase and grid connection rights to achieve the goal of a 20% renewable energy power supply by 2025. India announced a device capacity target of 5 GW in 2022 in mid-2018, and up to 30 GW in 2030, and solicited the intention of global developers to invest in India.
Current Status of Wind Power Generation in Taiwan
Taiwan has an energy shortage. More than 90% of its energy is dependent on imports, and its dependence on fossil energy is high. The environmental pollution caused by fossil energy also troubles the local government where each power plant is located. After the shutdown of nuclear power plants, it has become even more so. It has become a national air pollution discussion topic. However, in response to the "Paris Agreement" and other regulations related to greenhouse gas reduction adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Taiwan, as a member of the global village of high-tech development countries, is also thinking about countermeasures for the reduction of greenhouse gases.
The core values of Taiwan’s energy policy are currently moving towards the balanced development of the four major aspects of energy security, green economy, environmental sustainability, and social equity, to promote the sustainable development of Taiwan’s energy.
The current important indicator of Taiwan’s energy policy is that it is expected to reach the goal of non-nuclear generation by 2025. Renewable energy power generation in 2025 will account for more than 20% of the country’s total power generation. Renewable energy power generation is more efficient with solar power generation and wind power generation. Economic scale and solar power generation are facing problems such as power generation efficiency, difficulty in obtaining land, and lowering the price of bulk purchase, so at present, the demand for construction of solar power generating systems has gradually slowed down. However, as a result of developments in offshore wind power generation equipment, wind power generation has gradually become an important part of the expansion of renewable energy. As major international wind turbine manufacturers rush to enter Taiwan’s offshore wind power market, Taiwan has become the focus of offshore wind power development in Asia.
According to relevant statistics, the number of new global wind power installations in 2017 was approximately 49,219MW, a decrease of 6.1% from 52,414MW in 2016. In 2018, the number of new global wind power installations was approximately 54,751MW, an increase of 11.2% from 2017. After 2019, the overall global wind power market generally maintains a steady development trend.
Development technology and analysis of key components of wind power generation: Wind turbines are currently mainly divided into land-based and offshore wind turbines. Land-based wind turbines are mainly built on the land. Taiwan’s current land-based wind turbines are concentrated in Taoyuan, Taichung, and Changhua. Offshore wind turbines mainly take advantage of the particularity of offshore wind farms. Therefore, the power or model of offshore wind power equipment installation is larger than that of land-based wind turbines. At the same time, the reliability of the product, and the requirements for technical quality are relatively higher, and offshore wind turbine installations mainly include Near Shore, Off Shore, and Remote Offshore. The distinction is divided into the offshore distance, seabed depth, etc. For example, a water depth of fewer than 5m is called near shore, 5-20m is offshore, and 20m or more is far shore. The water depth will also affect factors such as unit planning, base selection, vessel maintenance, operational reliability, and return on investment. In the future, Taiwan's offshore wind turbines will be concentrated in the seas off Changbin and Penghu, mainly depending on wind field advantages such as wind intensity and seashore conditions.
Characteristics and Analysis of Advantages and Disadvantages of Offshore Wind Power Generation
Advantages of offshore wind power:
Disadvantages of offshore wind power:
- With development economic scale:
Offshore wind power generation can use a large area and complete blocks for development planning. It has a certain economic scale of development enough to attract wind farm developers to invest in development. Alos, offshore wind power has the advantages of high wind speed and low wind shear. The sea surface is very smooth and the friction is small. Wind turbines with high towers can achieve greater wind speeds, wind speeds are stable, changes in wind direction are small, and the wind shear effect (that is, the change in wind speed with height) is also smaller. Under these conditions wind turbines can produce higher power generation and the wind turbine component cost can be reduced.
- High wind power and quick return on investment:
Offshore wind turbines have the characteristics of low turbulence, low turbulence intensity for offshore wind, stable dominant wind direction, lower fatigue load on the unit, and longer wind turbine life. Offshore wind farms may allow for the construction of wind turbines with larger single-unit capacity. A single unit can generate up to 5-10MW. Due to lower noise requirements, higher energy output can be obtained by using generators that have higher rotation speeds which give better voltage matching.
- The initial construction cost is high:
Offshore wind turbines need piling to establish an offshore foundation, and the construction technology is difficult. Since the unit is more than 5-10MW, the cost of a single unit is expensive. The use of submarine cables for connection, wiring construction, and material costs are also higher than land construction. Therefore, if there is no coordination with a larger power grid on the shore, additional investment in lines and power transmission and transformation facilities will be required, which will increase a lot of construction costs. Offshore wind farms generally have high average wind speeds, and the time for construction and hoisting is limited, the construction period is long, the difficulty is high, and the risk is high.
- High maintenance cost:
Because the offshore wind turbine installation site is often a distance from the land, it is difficult for people to access it. It often requires helicopters, boat vehicles, and professional maintenance engineers for maintenance. Maintenance costs are relatively high. If there is no helicopter or ship, or technical support personnel available in the event of a wind turbine failure, the resulting in downtime will be long. The repair time will be difficult to grasp, and may cause an extended power outage, reducing the utilization rate.
Taking Advantage of the Development of Green E-commerce Opportunities
Given that the global wind power market will exceed US$100 billion by 2020, and offshore wind power will be the mainstay of the development of various countries, it is recommended that those who intend to invest in the wind power industry and development should prepare in advance to establish design and production capabilities. In European countries, the development of offshore wind power technology started late, but opportunities are still given to those who have already prepared. While the government vigorously promotes the goal of green energy, it should refer to the development trend of energy management and renewable energy technology in international organizations and governments to respond to the international development of renewable energy technologies and trends.
To achieve the important non-nuclear goal of the 2025 energy policy, the development of green power should be given priority to assist wind farm developers to introduce advanced wind turbine units and technologies, to open upwind farm training and accumulation of technology. Components and maintenance technology should be developed to gradually establish Taiwan’s technological capabilities in the wind power industry. Excessive emphasis on the requirements of technology transfer and local procurement ratios may slow the development of Taiwan's domestic wind power industry.
As offshore wind power components tend to be large-scale, the equipment and manufacturing capacity of Taiwan’s industrial chain may not be able to catch up with foreign technologies. The goal of localization is for Taiwan’s domestic metal components, underwater infrastructure, marine engineering, and maintenance. Technical management, etc., may have more development opportunities.