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Taiwan Spearheads Smart Grid

More efficient, clean and robust ‘smart’ energy networks are set to emerge from new and wide-ranging research led by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). 

Widely anticipated as the most significant energy systems development to emerge over the coming years, smart grids are expected to enable high penetration levels of renewables whilst maintaining grid stability and reliability. Among other benefits, smart grid technology has the advantage of automation and extensive systems performance information, which can enable self-diagnosis and repair in the event of a failure.

Commenting on the significance of smart grid technology Dr. Chen Yen Haw, Deputy Director of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, observed: “Smart Grid is the key component required to integrate the value chain between Green Energy and traditional energy”.

Dr. Yen Haw was speaking during a presentation on international cooperation on renewable energy projects in Taiwan being held at the All Energy Exhibition and Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

Within an overarching project designed to develop, demonstrate and verify elements such as demand-side management and advanced metering, smart grid is set to bring together key research areas for Taiwanese technology. For example, aluminium ion advanced battery storage technology, renewable energy sources like high concentration photovoltaics and bioenergy, as well as energy efficient applications like brushless DC motors and transmission and distribution systems integration all form key chapters in Taiwan’s smart grid story.

Indeed, smart grid is one of six key research areas under National Energy Program Phase II (NEP II) Smart Grid Focus Centre.

Emerging smart grid technology is being rolled out in partnership with the state utility the Taiwan Power Company (TPC). As technologies reach maturity they are initially trialled at TPC’s research campus before large-scale installation.

Among the existing smart grid demonstration projects are microgrid installations on the Taiwanese islands of Dong-Ji and Tai-Ping. In island and remote locations smart grid technology is particularly important for reliable power supplies. Taiwan and other countries in the region can be affected by typhoons where high wind speeds can bring down transmission and distribution lines, leaving communities without power for periods of a week or more.

Taiwan’s diverse smart grid strategy falls under phase II of the country’s National Energy Program which includes the development of energy policy guidelines and a planning and implementation program for smart grid roll out.

In addition, Taiwan hopes to establish partnerships with international stakeholders to explore elements such as smart metering and consumer energy management, transmission, distribution and microgrid systems and the emergence of virtual power plants which can bring together the various elements of the smart grid story to deliver appropriate energy capacity.

The Taiwan Smart Grid Industry Association was established back in 2009 to facilitate the development of the smart grid industry in the country. In a recent report the association noted that sales of smart grid products in Taiwan are growing at a compound annual rate of more than 51 percent and is already worth above US$500 million a year.