Solar energy is a form of clean energy that is carbon-free and does not cause global warming. As solar energy has huge power potential, is non-depletable, and stays geographically unbounded, many countries have put it at the top of their renewable (sustainable) energy development agenda. It is also now one of the major energy sources for electricity generation worldwide.
According to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)’s statistics on the top ten countries by installed solar capacity in 2020, China ranked first with a remarkable total installed capacity of 254 GW, followed by the United States (76 GW), Japan (67 GW), Germany (54 GW), and India (39 GW). Countries ranked 6th to 10th are shown in the figure above.
According to the Bureau of Energy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the cumulative installed solar capacity in Taiwan is 6 GW as of the end of 2020. In recent years, solar power generation has become a vital component in Taiwan’s renewable energy development. To illustrate, the government launched the Two-year Solar PV (Photovoltaic) Promotion Plan in 2016, which, through the establishment of paradigm projects, strengthening of legal frameworks, and streamlining of administrative procedures, aimed to accelerate PV installation on the roofs of public facilities and idle land in order to effectively boost the installation capacity of rooftop and ground-mounted PV systems.
To encourage the private sector and the public to participate in energy creation, the government further launched the Green Energy Roofs project in 2017. The project proposed: (1) Free solar panel installation on rooftops, which would allow homeowners to make their roofs greener without putting up own money and further earn a fixed 10% solar feed-in tariff—on top of having improved their roofing safety, roof aesthetics, and the urban landscape; (2) Steady stream of revenue for electricity operators, whereby after helping homeowners to install their PV systems, operators could earn a share from Taipower's guaranteed purchase of the generated electricity for 20 years.
In 2020, the government proceeded with the second phase of the Two-year Solar PV Promotion Plan, focusing on three main strategies: increasing solar PV installation at industrial parks; promoting symbiosis solutions between solar power generation and animal husbandry, agriculture, and fishery; and calling for actions at both the central and local levels. The goal is to maximize local land and space utilization efficiency to build more demonstration sites for agrivoltaics and aquavoltaics, thereby helping Taiwan achieve its target of reaching a 20% share of renewables in its total energy mix by 2025.