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TPP calls for review of wind farm regulations

The government should consider the impact of offshore wind farms on shipping, fisheries and marine life before allowing energy developers to build more installations, Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) lawmakers and experts said on Wednesday.

The government plans to phase out all nuclear power generation facilities and generate 20 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, including 5.7 gigawatts (GW) from offshore wind power. From 2026 to 2035, it plans to source an additional 15GW from offshore wind farms.

Before the government releases new guidelines for phase 3 offshore wind farm development and waterway plans near target farms, it should first review the results of the previous two stages, as only 7.5 percent of the 2025 goal (5.7GW) has been achieved, TPP Legislator Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如) told an online news conference.

The phase 3 rules are expected to demarcate “red zones” that prohibit offshore wind farm construction, following controversies about the potential effects of wind farms on fisheries, shipping lanes and marine ecology.

Many controversial issues were discussed only after energy developers had received approvals from the Environmental Protection Administration, TPP caucus whip Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) said, likening it “to shooting an arrow first before drawing a target.”

The government should look into the needs and activities of shippers, the coast guard, navy and fishers before approving more power projects, he said.

The government’s energy policy is obviously decoupled from its national land planning act, National Taiwan Ocean University emeritus professor Chiau Wen-yan (邱文彥) said.

Chiau, a former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker, in 2015 proposed a draft bill on the management of territorial waters within 12 nautical miles (22.2km). The bill passed a preliminary review by the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee that year, but has not progressed further.

Chiau said he supports offshore wind farm development, but questions whether it is good to install so many wind turbines in the Taiwan Strait.

Instead of hastening to meet its 2025 energy target, it should slow down and re-evaluate its overall marine territory plans by taking into account different activities in its waters, he said.

Matsu Fish Conservation Union chairman Robin Winkler said that endangered Taiwanese humpback dolphins live in waters 2 to 3 nautical miles (3.7km to 5.6km) off the coast and their habitats might be endangered by offshore wind turbine installations.

A more thorough discussion of offshore development projects is needed, he said.

Last year, only 5.8 percent of the nation’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, while 40.8 percent was from gas-fired units, 36.4 percent from coal-fired sources, 12.7 percent from nuclear energy and the rest from other sources, data on Taiwan Power Co’s Web site shows.

Officials from the Bureau of Energy and the Maritime and Port Bureau who attended the news conference said they would further discuss the demarcation of shipping lanes and how to avoid damaging the habitats of dolphins.