Government Should Help Drive Taiwan’s Solar Panel Industry: Study

For solar panel producers in Taiwan to compete on the world stage, they need government support, a study says.

AsianScientist (May 6, 2016) – The Taiwanese government should provide subsidies for the solar panel industry to help it survive in that country, according to a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK have found that solar photovoltaic production in Taiwan is not competitive enough, and more support should be given to producers through publicly-funded research and development.

The study, led by senior lecturer Dr. Jeff Jia from the University of Exeter Business School is thought to be the first detailed comparison of policy, industry and the supply chain in Taiwan, China, Japan, Germany and the US.

According to the researchers, politicians should give support so companies can develop advanced technology and use new advances and production methods from abroad. The Taiwanese government should encourage academics to share their expertise with people working in the solar panel industry.

Because of the increasing shortage of natural resources in some countries, green technology is becoming more popular. However, the global solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is heavily affected by government policy. Currently, the cost of electricity generated by solar panels is still higher than nuclear power, coal and gas; governments need to provide financial incentives to encourage take-up.

Jia and colleagues found that the only strength of producers in Taiwan is in solar cell production, and they could gradually lose even this competitive advantage.

In 2000, the global PV market value was worth US$2.5 billion, but has boomed over the past 15 years as a result of strong global demand. In 2011, the market value had risen to US$91.6 billion. By 2012 the economic recession caused a 13 percent drop in market value to US$79.7 billion in 2012, but it had recovered by 15 per cent up to US$91.3 billion in 2013.

By 2015, 56 percent of the global market share of the solar industry was in Asia. The five countries with the highest demand were China, Japan, US, Germany and United Kingdom, accounting for 75 percent.

“The solar industry has become a battlefield for the global trade war as every government creates tariffs or some kind of trade barriers to protect its own interests,” said Jia.

“On one hand, China destroyed the market mechanism by selling PV products at prices below normal, thus forcing many producers in US, EU and Japan to leave the market.”

“On the other hand, low-cost equipment has enhanced the amount of installations around the world and increased the amount of electricity generated by solar power. China and the US should enhance growth together, rather than obstruct development.”

The article can be found at: Jia et al. (2016) Global Solar Photovoltaic Industry: An Overview and National Competitiveness of Taiwan.


Source: University of Exeter; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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