Program Introduction

Program Introduction to  

Talent Cultivation for the Integration and Application of Clean Energy Systems – Taiwan Can!

 

Ta-Hui Lin

Professor and Director

Research Center for Energy Technology and Strategy (RCETS)

National Cheng Kung University

 

1. Taiwan's Energy Dilemma

 

The massive exploitation and consumption of fossil fuels in the 20th century has greatly enhanced industrial development and people's livelihoods. However, energy shortages and pollution emissions have become an urgent problem for humankind in the 21st century. In particular, the greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels have produced today’s severe crises of global warming and climate change. Disasters, such as heat waves, freezing weather, torrential rains, floods, and droughts are no longer connected with the seasons. These disasters have not only expanded in size but also in their frequency. Under the dual pressures of losses in human lives and economic losses, the promotion of "energy savings and carbon reduction" has become the global movement of this century.

 

Taiwan is a country with an extreme shortage of energy resources. According to the Energy Statistics Handbook 2017, issued by the Bureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs, 98.0% of Taiwan's overall energy supply in 2017 was imported. The small amount of domestically produced energy included conventional hydropower (0.5%), solar photovoltaic, wind and biogas power generation (0.2%), solar thermal energy (0.1%), biomass energy and waste (1.2%), and natural gas (0.2%). The imported energy included coal (30.2%), oil (48.5%), natural gas (15.2%), and nuclear energy (4.4%). Taiwan was the fifth largest coal importer in the world in 2010, and the eleventh largest oil importer in the world in 2006. Data from the Taipower Company reveals that of the total power generation in Taiwan in 2017, thermal power generation accounted for 85.9% (including 46.6% for coal-fired, 34.6% for LNG-fired, and 4.7% for oil-fired power generations), nuclear power for 8.3%, renewable energy for 4.6%, and pumped hydro for 1.2%. The renewable energy consisted of 19.7% conventional hydro, 57.1% waste, 12.4% solar photovoltaic and wind, 6.6% biomass, and 4.3% solar thermal power generation. Taiwan has strictly followed recent government policies and has gradually moved toward non-nuclear electricity production. In the near future, therefore, the energy supply must change from a heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels to a rapidly growing reliance on domestically produced renewable energy.

 

Based on reports by the European Commission and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, in 2003 Taiwan ranked 12th in the world with per capita carbon dioxide emissions of 11.8 tons, which was 2.4 times more than the average global per capita emissions of 5 tons. More recently, the Global Carbon Atlas revealed that Taiwan in 2014 ranked 26th in the world in terms of 11 tons of per capita emissions, which was 2.2 times more than the average global per capita emissions of 4.9 tons. It is worth noting that since 2003, Taiwan's per capita carbon dioxide emissions have remained at about 11 tons, with no significant fluctuations or reductions.

 

Currently, Taiwan has made only limited progress in the development and utilization of renewable energy, and still relies heavily on imported fossil fuels. In the future, Taiwan will be facing the daunting challenges of “energy savings and carbon reduction,” which require not only technological developments and industrial transformation, but also universal and localized energy education. The Taiwan government needs to better educate the public about Taiwan's energy dilemma and environmental challenges and achieve popular support for a national action of "energy savings and carbon reduction."

 

2. Continuation of Taiwan's Energy Education Promotion

 

Following the recommendations of the 8th National Science and Technology Conference, the 28th Science and Technology Consultation Conference, the Industrial Strategy Conference, the National Energy Conference, and the Six Emerging Industrial Policies of the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Education has developed strategies to promote science and technology programs. For example, “Promoting green energy conservation” is an important plan for advancing the education and training of talented students. Since 2010, the Ministry of Education has promoted energy science and technology education programs, which can effectively address energy conservation and carbon reduction policies, improve national energy conservation, increase carbon reduction efforts, and promote energy science and technology among talented students from all walks of life.

 

During the years 2010 to 2013, the "Energy-Based National Science and Technology Talents Cultivation Program," conducted by Ministry of Education, established a junior college science and technology resource center, a high school and professional school energy science and technology promotion center, and an elementary and junior high school energy science and technology promotion center. The first program focused on the cross-disciplinary education of talented students, while the latter two were used as a platform for high school and K-12 energy education, respectively.

 

From 2014 to 2017, the Ministry of Education's "National Energy Science and Technology Talents Cultivation Program" continued to promote the effective education programs of the previous period. This program went further to educate the next generation of students in Taiwan to more comprehensively understand the causes and effects of energy, to improve the public’s overall energy-saving awareness, and to develop the future energy-saving policies of Taiwan. Proper implementation will result in more effective energy-saving and carbon-reduction strategies, with reduced impacts on the natural environment.

 

The current plan (2018 to 2021) will continue the foundations established by the previous two phases, and have adjusted the goals to include “Clean Energy System Integration and Application.” The present program will promote a better understanding world trends, advocate sustainable development in local areas, and support the development of energy innovations involving both industry and society. In addition to individual energy-saving and carbon-reduction technologies, the current program emphasizes combining diverse clean technologies. Lastly, this program will encourage more students to master energy technology, and addresses impacts on the environment and society, as well as benefits to economic innovation.

 

3. Energy Education Promotion at the Present Stage

 

The title of this project suggests that current energy education is primarily focused on "clean energy," namely all different types of clean energy sources plus energy conservation technologies. "Clean energy" has two important meanings. The first meaning emphasizes that energy use must combine the thinking and actions of “environmental sustainability.” The second meaning focuses on the fact that energy education must properly address both the positive and negative effects of different types of energy. The strategic use of clean and efficient types of energy will be the ultimate goal of Taiwan's energy development. And, "system integration" will be the energy model promoted. Because Taiwan's energy resources are extremely scarce, a reliance on a single energy source or a limited number of renewable energy sources is impossible. Diversified and regionally oriented energy supplies are the future objectives that need to be achieved through integrated education and training. This project will emphasize the cultivation of "applied talents" that is aimed at the scientific and technological expertise needed for Taiwan's vital redevelopment of its energy industry. Therefore, future energy education will focus on local practices and cooperation between industries and universities, and will actively invite the participation of industry, government, and research institutes. Through such cooperation, we will develop the expertise that the energy industry urgently needs through added practical experience and industrial training measures.

 

The four overall goals of the current project include the following: The advancement of energy knowledge, the cultivation of green energy technology, the application of green energy systems, and the integration of advanced, smart innovations. The relationships between these implementation measures and energy education programs are shown in Figure 1. To efficiently promote the efforts needed to achieve the national government’s specified targets, Taiwan's administrative region was divided up with Local Energy Education Centers (LEEC) established in each part. These LEECs include those of Taipei-New Taipei-Keelung, Taoyuan-Hsinchu-Miaoli, Taichung-Changhua-Nantou, Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan, Penghu-Kaohsiung-Pingtung, and Yilan-Hualien-Taitung. Each LEEC is responsible for the two major tasks of regional scientific and technological education, and the promotion of energy knowledge. The Energy Education Resource Center (EERC) for both the college level and primary and high schools levels will also be established. The EERCs will be responsible for inventorying, developing, and promoting energy education resources. The overall organizational structure is shown in Figure 2.

 

Fig. 1 Relationship between the overall implementation measures of the plan and the characteristics of energy education

Fig.2 Program organization chart

 

4. Prospects of Taiwan's Energy Education Promotion

 

From the perspective of the development of green energy technology, this project is based on the overall concept of “three trees and one grassland,” as shown in Figure 3. Green Energy Technology needs to be deeply rooted in local industry through industry-university cooperation to promote the development of regional industries. The green energy system must be able to effectively use local resources and make full use of local energy. The resulting energy production will also be connected to the people, which will increase their energy knowledge. The overall green energy technology must be developed with intelligent innovation, collaboration, and an understanding of real-world conditions.

 

From the perspective of the cultivation of scientific and technological expertise, as shown in Figure 4, this project will focus on domestic university students, using energy technology curriculum modules integrated into basic university courses. The objectives will include laying the foundation for the development of sustainable energy science and technology, supporting training through industry-university cooperation, promoting the industrial development of Green Energy Technology, and finally implementing the Green Energy Technology System at the local level through system integration. In addition, talented college students participating in the public promotion of energy knowledge will be provided with valuable instruction, practical experience, and promotion training.

Figure 3 three trees and one grassland

Fig.4 The Talent Cultivation for Integration and Application of Clean Energy System

The expected achievements of industrial and social benefits include the following:

  • Cooperate with industry and address social needs to train leaders in clean energy integration and technology applications.
  • With courses focusing on basic energy knowledge, we expect to raise the social awareness of energy conservation and carbon reduction activities, and improve the public’s energy knowledge.
  • The curriculum modules will be integrated into university courses to provide talented students interested in sustainable energy science and technology with a balanced education.
  • Through supporting cooperation between industry and academia, we will educate talented students in each energy science and technology, to promote the professional and technical development of green energy technology.
  • By establishing on-site internships under the cooperation of industry, government, and research institutes, this project will provide a permanent teaching, demonstration, and promotion platform, and will support the local practice of the Green Energy Technology System.
  • Promote green energy technology innovation development and integrated applications through the provision of innovative application courses and creative competitions.

 

Taiwan's energy challenges are complex and people of this generation often ask: "Taiwan can?" or "Taiwan can!" Obviously no one can provide a response with certainty. We hope that the implementation of this project will enable a new generation of young scholars to have a true and complete understanding of Taiwan's energy situation, and assist them in becoming multi-energy technology leaders with knowledge, expertise, and practical and promotional experiences. Eventually, the baton of Taiwan's future energy application will be passed to them. In the long run, we believe that they will be able to confidently shout out "Taiwan can!"

 

Acknowledgements: I would like to offer my highest thanks and gratitude to all my colleagues and all my partners who have invested in this project. The days are a bit long (four years), but I will walk with you together. The goal is far and the work is hard, but I am full of hope.