Cabinet unveils US$9.8 billion infrastructure program

An NT$300 billion (US$9.8 billion) national infrastructure program spanning the areas of renewable energy and preservation of water resources was unveiled March 20 by the Cabinet in Taipei City.

The near-decadelong program is part of the government's Perspective Infrastructure Construction Projects, which also covers balanced urban-rural development, digital facilities and rail tracks. All of the projects are expected to address Taiwan's infrastructure needs for the next 30 years.

Chen Tain-jy, minister of the National Development Council, said during the program's news conference that in the past few years there has been a shortfall in investment in public infrastructure projects. This undertaking will address this state of affairs and spur economic growth, he added.

Echoing Chen's remarks, Minister without Portfolio Wu Cheng-chung said the program's renewable energy initiatives focus on solar and wind power generation, as well as building Shalun Green Energy Science City in southern Taiwan's Tainan City. A proposal for SGESC was approved by the Executive Yuan in October 2016, and a preparatory office was established in November the same year.

According to Wu, domestic and foreign investment in the solar and wind power sectors is expected to hit NT$1.8 trillion by 2027, with the total for all renewable energy sources forecast to reach NT$3 trillion. He added that state-run Taiwan Power Co. is preparing for this increase by constructing new electricity networks to distribute the additional electricity to high-demand areas.

Minster of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung said the government has set a goal of installing ground-mounted and rooftop solar panels, as well as building coastal and offshore wind facilities with a combined capacity of 20 and 4.2 gigawatts, respectively, within the same period.

According to Lee, to fully develop Taiwan's offshore wind generation potential, a greater emphasis must be placed on marine construction and shipbuilding projects at major harbor areas in the central and southern parts of the country. These efforts are in line with the government's plans to increase renewable energy's share of the national power production total from the current 4 percent to 25 percent by 2025 while phasing out nuclear energy, he said.

Regarding water resources, Lee said construction projects include building artificial lakes, small dams and 250 kilometers of underground tunnels for rainwater, as well as upgrading existing reservoirs and seaside embankments so as to minimize the impacts of droughts and floods. As a result, it is expected that up to 200 square kilometers of land will experience fewer floods, he added.

Other planned water resources-related initiatives include constructing 88 riverside sightseeing areas over 420 hectares around the country, expanding water supplies to Taiwan's outlying islands, encouraging the use of recycled water and deep-well seawater, and promoting smart water management and saving practices.

According to the Cabinet, the digital facilities component of the projects will be announced March 21, with balanced urban-rural development and rail tracks set for unveiling over the next few days.

Source: Taiwan Today