In 2016, the Taiwanese government set an ambitious goal to raise the percentage of renewable energy in the island’s power supply from 4.8 percent in 2016 to a full 20 percent by 2025. This considerable growth in renewable energy must occur without nuclear energy, which currently accounts for 13.5 percent of the power supply last year, as the government will completely phase out nuclear energy. To make matters more challenging, a full 98 percent of Taiwan’s energy resources are currently imported.
Achieving these goals, while maintaining an adequate, reliable, and affordable power supply, will be no small feat. And this transformation couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be expected through government action alone. Taiwan’s best chance is for governmental officials, along with scientists, academia, and industry, to come together to ensure the power grid infrastructure is sufficient and secure funding for green energy.
We’re proud to be playing a role in this transition in a variety of ways, from providing expertise to funding through renewable energy certificates (RECs).
Microsoft is the only technology company currently participating in President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration efforts to establish a National Renewable Energy Certification Center (T-REC Center), providing our expertise, resources and insights to aid this transition. This Center will help to promote green energy, and the Preparatory Office is ambitiously working to establish the operational and verification practices to ready T-RECs for purchase at the end of this year.
“We are working with industry to ensure that the renewable energy certificates we offer are both compelling to businesses and internationally accepted – as such, we appreciate the considerable knowledge and experience that organizations like Microsoft have contributed in the early development of the center,” said Dr. Hsieh Han-Chang, Chairman of National Renewable Energy Certification Center Project and Chief Secretary, BSMI/MOEA.
Supporting Renewable Energy
But providing insight was just the start. Microsoft recently purchased 3,000 MWh of small-scale hydro renewable energy credits (RECs) in Taiwan. These RECs represent 100 percent of our annual electricity consumption in Taiwan and avoid 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – approximately the equivalent of taking 428 cars off the road in a year. While this is a small purchase for Microsoft, which operates 100 percent carbon neutral around the globe and uses RECs in part to reach that goal, its impact is large. We believe it sends a signal to the market and others that renewable energy is a good investment and shows our commitment to supporting our growth in Taiwan with renewable energy.
We’re also trying to lessen our footprint, as a lowered amount of carbon emissions from our facilities should make it easier to hit the country’s goals. That’s why we took the opportunity during a recent office move to modernize our workplace and to reduce our energy footprint. Using technologies like the cloud and Skype for Business, our work environment is more mobile-friendly and collaborative, and we have reduced our overall power consumption by 51 percent.
And finally, we are leveraging our technology to help others improve their energy efficiency. For example, Taiwan’s state operated power company, Taipower, is considering ways to improve transmission system efficiency and enhance grid technology. Microsoft is helping them explore the potential of technologies like artificial intelligence to help them manage operations more resourcefully. Based on early stories from other utilities, these modernizations have the power to be truly transformative.
Innovating for Taiwan’s Future
Taiwan has set forth an important and lofty goal. We believe that there’s an important role for the private sector – and Microsoft specifically – to play in advancing this agenda by taking actions to reduce our carbon impact and investing to improve energy efficiency. With our commitments, technology and enterprise partnerships, Microsoft is working to help create a more sustainable and prosperous Taiwan.
Vincent Shih is responsible for leading the Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) group in providing full-scale support on IT industry policy engagement, corporate social responsibility, and serving as the main contact on government relationship and industry associations for Microsoft Taiwan and Microsoft GCR M&O Group.