Taiwan should utilize its rich geothermal resources

Taiwan should utilize its rich geothermal resources Beitou hot spring, Taipei, Taiwan (source: flickr/ Wunkai, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 25 Aug 2011

Geoscientists in Taiwan urge the utilization of the country's large geothermal resources, which could play an important role in taking off pressure on current power generation facilities utilizing sustainable resources.

Taiwanese news outlet Focus Taiwan, reported the other day that the country was rich in geothermal and should make more use “of this sustainable natural resource to generate electricity to help alleviate pressure on the country’s other power generation facilities, according to local geoscientists.

Sheng-Rong Song, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Geology, said geothermal energy is abundant beneath Taiwan.

“Estimates of the electricity-generating potential of geothermal energy in Taiwan total roughly 25.4 gigawatts (GWs), equivalent to the total installed capacity of 9.7 Fourth Nuclear Power Plants,” Song said during a press conference on renewable energy. One GW is equal to one billion watts.

“Taiwan could reduce its reliance on nuclear power plants if it were to explore and develop geothermal power,” Song said.

He recommended geothermal energy as a safe, sustainable and low polluting power source.

Meanwhile, Lee Chao-shing, a professor at National Taiwan Ocean University’s Institute of Applied Geosciences, noted that CPC Taiwan Corp. built a geothermal power plant in Qingshui, in the northeastern county of Yilan, in 1981 that had an installed capacity of 3 million watts.

It was the 14th such plant in the world to be able to successfully generate electricity from geothermal energy, Lee said. [Note: the plant has been re-started as a demonstration project with a Kalina cycle power plant under license by Global Geothermal. It is operated by Shenghe New Energy Resources Science & Technology (SSNE)]

The plant, however, was closed down 12 years later, the victim of technical bottlenecks. Today, geothermal power is a rising star in the world’s energy sector, with drilling and related technologies constantly progressing and maturing, Lee said.

Geothermal power has become increasingly popular worldwide as fossil fuel prices continue to soar and nuclear power plants trigger nuclear crises, he added.

Lee suggested that Taiwan could emulate Iceland, the United States, the Philippines and New Zealand — the major countries that use geothermal energy to generate electricity — by tapping its own geothermal resources.

Taking Iceland as an example, Lee said that geothermal energy is not only used for electricity generation but is also used to heat swimming pools, fishing ponds and greenhouses.

Both Song and Lee are involved in an energy resources exploration project authorized by the National Science Council.”

Source: Focus Taiwan