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Seven wind farms win initial okay

The Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) ad hoc committee yesterday approved seven offshore wind farm projects proposed by Denmark-based Orsted Energy and Nantou-based Swancor Renewable Energy Co.

The projects – four by Orsted and three by Swancor – are to be located off the coast Changhua County, which has become a competitive battlefield for wind farm developers.

However, the ad hoc committee’s conclusions must still be confirmed by the EPA’s Environmental Impact Assessment committee.

Yesterday’s approved projects bring to 14 the number of projects centered off Chuanghua that the ad hoc committee has greenlit.

Yesterday’s meetings were the third committee reviews for Orsted and Swancor’s projects.

To win approval, the two firms had reduced their development areas to avoid overlapping with shipping lanes or damage the habitat of Taiwanese humpback dolphins.

Orsted plans to install between 218 and 301 wind turbines at No. 12, 13, 14 and 15 planned sites, with their maximum capacity reaching about 2.4 gigawatts (GW).

At sites No. 11, 16 and 17, Swancor plans to install a maximum of 228 turbines, with a capacity totaling just over 2GW.

Some committee members raised concerns about potential historic remains in the waters near the proposed sites and the migration routes of migratory birds.

Committee member Liu Yi-chang (劉益昌) urged the two firms to promise to adjust the location of their turbines if they find historic remains offshore, and they agreed.

Orsted had proposed demarcating four routes used by migratory birds within the range of its wind farms, but committee member Lee Chien-ming (李堅明) asked it to establish more concrete plans.

Developers should also evaluate how to strive for “carbon rights” in the international community, considering wind energy can reduce the nation’s carbon emissions compared with coal-fired or gas-fired power, he added.

The ad hoc committee imposed several requirements on the developers, including asking them to propose plans to reduce air pollutants such as sulfur oxides and fine particulate matter emitted from machine engines powered by diesel fuels.

Orsted earlier this month signed memorandums of understanding with China Steel Corp and Century Wind Power – a subsidiary of Century Iron & Steel Industrial Co, said Matthias Bausenwein, the company’s general manager for the Asia-Pacific region.

The four offshore wind farms are Orsted’s biggest investment plan outside Denmark, he told reporters after the meeting at the EPA, adding that its investment is expected to reach NT$300 billion (US$9.99 billion).