Over the years, Taiwan has made big strides in the development and use of green technology. Organised by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Green Trade Project Office (GTPO), INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY's visit to this island country was purposeful. It was a 'Green Media Tour', and to our surprise, the technologies showcased by the Taiwanese companies were beyond imagination!
what I immediately found attractive, as I landed at Taiwan, is that it is a Wi-Fi free nation. From the moment you step in at the airport, your free Wi-Fi services begin. You continue getting it whether you are in the metro rail, night market or shopping malls. Another catchy feature is that the country encourages cycling for swift and pollution-free transportation. All major junctions in the cities that I visited were equipped with modern-edge public bicycling system. Perhaps, that attributes to the fact that most of the Taiwanese I met were mentally and physically fit. Starting here, personally, I found this visit an eye opener of sorts!
Day 1: Taiwan Green Industry Media Day
Taiwan Green Industry Media Day saw journalists visiting from countries including Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and India. Taiwanese representatives from companies like Biomax Technologies, Everlight, Chang Hong, Neo Solar Power, Eterbright and Asia Pacific Fuel Cell Technologies (APFCT) showcased their technologically-advanced products.
Unique products kept the visitors in awe. As a professional technology provider, APFCT is dedicated specifically to the field of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and low pressure hydrogen storage systems for fuel cell light vehicles, such as scooters, mobility scooters, golf carts, mini cars and pallet trucks.
Visiting journalists were stunned when Louis Wang, Representative, APFCT gave them a live demonstration of the hydro-run scooter. To give a brief of the background, in 2012, the APFCT fuel cell scooter passed the Taiwan Vehicle Safety Certification, and was allowed domestic operations. Over the years, in 2012 and 2013, APFCT conducted the world's largest fuel cell scooter social validation project with 80 scooters operating in Kenting, southern Taiwan. Users can access hydrogen canisters via an exchange system and test ride the fuel cell scooter in real-life conditions.
Next was Multiply Energy Co., which has developed a highly efficient, robust and low-cost nano-fibre series, capable of removing various metal particles, including arsenic, cadmium, caesium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, palladium, rare earth elements and radioactive nuclear metal from water. The LCW fibre-adsorbent can be used to remedy industrial waste water, clean up contaminated waterways and remove toxic metals from drinking water. LCW fibres are currently being developed in Taiwan for various applications. 'Removing arsenic from drinking water using LCW filter is perhaps one application of this new product which would be highly desirable and welcomed by Southeast Asian countries,' Bruce Wu, Cofounder, Multiply Energy Co. told IT.
According to Bruce Wu, rural areas in India which are especially dependent on groundwater sources are exposed to the risk of arsenic poisoning. Low-cost and effective water filters developed by the company would benefit rural inhabitants, who only have access to toxic metal-contaminated water.
At the exhibition, Taiwan's Eterbright showcased the world's most powerful (310 W~320 W) CIGS thin film solar modules, the CIGS 3000 series. Its conversion efficiency is as high as 14 per cent, breaking the long existing business barrier of CIGS thin film solar products and achieving a new threshold that can compete with poly-crystalline. It is 13.5 per cent efficient and can yield over 260 W per single module.
Explaining the importance of CIGS thin solar modules, officials from Eterbright said that it possesses a power gain factor (PGF) compared to mono- and poly-crystalline modules, under the same environment and on the same labelled power. CIGS solar module can generate additional electricity yield as high as 20 per cent, or even 26 per cent. The power output of CIGS module with conversion efficiency of 13.5 per cent is equivalent to 16.2~17.01 per cent of mono- and poly-crystalline modules. As a result, 13.5 per cent is defined as the threshold efficiency for a CIGS solar module to be competitive enough in the industry.
During the Green Media Tour, TAITRA organised exclusive media visits to companies known for their green initiatives, having various business interests in booming markets including India. One of them was Teco.
Since its founding in June 1956, TECO Electric and Machinery Co. has never rested on the laurels of its success. It started out as an industrial motor manufacturer 45 years ago. Over the years, it has successfully diversified into a conglomerate with worldwide business operations. Teco is renowned not only as a leading heavy electrical industrial brand, but also as a leading manufacturer of home appliances, telecommunications equipment, IT systems, electromechanical components and commercial electronics.
The Teco Group is also committed to the medical information system, e-commerce, semiconductor, optronics, network, software, infrastructure, financial investment, food services and distribution industries, becoming a global high-tech enterprise group. Teco recently invested around $10 million in what it terms as world's first 'smart' motor production facility. According to George Huang, Special Assistant, Board of Director, 'The upgraded plant uses technologies such as robots, 3D vision systems and automated guided vehicles. This has led us to intervene in manual processes resulting in increased production from 10 motors per day to 34.'
Since 2008, the company has special interest in India with a small motor manufacturing unit in Vadodara, an R&D facility in Coimbatore and a business unit in Delhi. Since Indian market supports its business interests, the company is likely to expand its Gujarat unit to manufacture medium and large motors. The company is likely to form a joint venture with a large Indian conglomerate, which George Huang refused to divulge.
In terms of 'smartness' Teco's smart motor products can collect data such as voltage, current and temperature from a motor vehicle. It can convert them into digital signals for more detailed scrutiny of the vehicle for security purpose. 'These motors, in a way, interact with the users too. In case of any uneventful incident, the motors, with the help of digitised data, communicate with the users to avert further damage,' said Dr Lian-Shin Hung, Director, R&D Division.
Meanwhile, the company's in-wheel motor-equipped bike was an attraction. Interestingly, the wheel itself is a motor, which can be used in any electric bike without any engine and transmission. This in-wheel has a fourth-generation motor that has been designed in Teco's plant in Japan. With this motor, a motorcycle can touch 120 mph. The R&D team is making all strides to redesign the necessary suspension systems so that an electric bike can accommodate in-wheel motor which is heavy in nature.
During the day, a visit to Chung-Hsin Electric and Machinery Manufacturing Corp (CHEM) was fruitful. CHEM is principally engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of electric power equipment, as well as contract construction of projects. Its engineering business revolves around electric power, wind power, hydropower generation, air conditioning, electric generator and environment protection, among other projects. It provides chillers, generator sets, high voltage circuit breakers, smart grid electric power automation equipment, customised fuel cell systems, methanol reformers, handheld document terminals, industrial computers and parking facilities. It is also involved in the parking lot business. The company distributes its products to both domestic and overseas markets.
CHEM takes pride in talking about its world's first fuel cell micro-grid system at the Naledi Trust Community in South Africa. The project has benefitted the local community there immensely. Its fuel cell micro-grid system consists of three fuel cells, powering 34 homes for two years. In fact, CHEM brings new technology and micro-grid capability with its second generation PGM state-of-art design and has planned for the second demonstration to prove its large-scale commercial viability.
As explained by Wan-Hui Liao, Director, Department of Hydrogen, 'Fuel cell power system consists of three 5 kW methanol fuel cell systems integrated with batteries, DC-AC inverters, fuel system, control system, telemetry system and safety system.' Further, 'The system generates 230 V, 50 Hz AC quality power at 200 kWh per day, sufficient for cooking, refrigeration, lighting, kettles, irons, television, radio and charging of electronic devices (peak power 60 kVA).'
Interestingly, the system is capable of telemetric data logging and warehousing, allowing for remote monitoring of system operation, programmed maintenance, fault detection and correction, fuel level monitoring and remotely-scheduled deliveries. Data is accessible in near real time on a web-based portal.
CHEM is in a quest to replace the use of traditional diesel engine generator with fuel cell in the near future. It provides lead acid batteries for solar projects, which give higher availability of energy. It also provides smart energy-saving solutions to improve fuel efficiency control on inverters and batteries. This has resulted in the maximum penetration rate of solar power, increased from 32 per cent up to 92.8 per cent. 'With installation of solar power project in Taiwan, the country will be the first low-carbon island with 100 per cent clean energy,' said a confident Joseph Chang, Special Assistant, Chairman Office.
The day came to an end with the exhausted journalists, who were all set to travel to one of the oldest cities of Taiwan - Tainan. Authentic Taiwanese food was a blessing in disguise as it helped us keep up our energy levels, and we dozed off during the 300 km long journey to Tainan.
Known for its century-old fortresses and temples, the city of Tainan was the capital of the island nation. Being one of the richest cities in Taiwan, Tainan also encompasses large business houses. One of them is Motech Industries Inc., which is the world's fifth largest solar PV manufacturing company with 3.4 GW of cell capacity in 2017. Over these years, Motech has been expanding its solar expertise across the value chain to give customers the advantage of international sourcing and manufacturing. Being the largest professional solar cell manufacturer in the world, it offers enhanced solar cell technology to its customers offering better quality and operational efficiency. The company is also the first solar cell manufacturer in Taiwan. Apart from 3.4 GW cell capacity, Motech also owns a 500 MW wafer manufacturing and a 300 MW module manufacturing unit. According to Jack Hsieh, Senior VP and CFO, there are plans to expand on two fronts: technology and capacity. The emphasis is more on technology, which implies that the company will continue to upgrade its products to meet the latest demand. In terms of cell manufacturing expansion, Hsieh conveyed that they have plans to expand the current 3.4 GW to 4 GW. 'The total investment in expansion will be $30 million', he said.
Being the only Taiwanese company figured in the Chinese-dominated market, part of its operation is based in China and some in Taiwan, which enriches the technology background of the company. It also enables Motech to enjoy some cost benefits in China.
That said, Allen Wu, Vice President, Global Sales & Quality Management emphasised on the company's strategy to manufacture more quality-based products. According to him, in a quest to manufacture quality products, Motech focuses on high R&D intensity and releases two new advanced products each year to improve efficiency. This is evident as its IM156 cell was validated by SGS PAS 2050:2008, which is the world's first solar cell carbon footprint verification.
During an exclusive interaction, PH Chang, Chairman and CEO, commended India's solar energy target of 100 GW. He opines, 'Indian solar market is very challenging as compared to others. Since most of the players (in India) want low-end products, as the largest player of solar PV sector in the world, we do not support this tendency.' Meanwhile, he asserts, most of India's imports are from China, which is self-explanatory when it comes to low-end, low-quality products. However, Chang advised Indian solar power developers not to use low-cost solar PV in their projects. He said, 'If the product (solar PV) does not last long, then rest assured the project will not last long, placing the company's image at high stake.'
Our visit to Motech was enriching, as there are few companies in the world that are more focused on technology expansion than just capacity.
Treated with the fresh aroma arising from the exotic fish on our table, we were all set to leave with lingering memories, even as the ever-efficient TAITRA officials planned our next visit to Enerstec Inc - a company that believes in technology advancement for the betterment of the society and nature.
Established in 2005, Enerstec owns an exclusive innovative patent on pyrolysis technology. It specialises in waste plastic, rubber, organic waste recycling and pyrolysising technology, in addition to thermal desorption and soil treatment technology development and application.
'We provide services such as system design and construction, manufacture operation and quality control techniques and our mission is to provide perfect solutions for unsolvable environmental issues, as well as prevent secondary pollution,' said Michael Yuan, Chairman, during his brief interaction with the visiting journalists.
As climate change and global warming are major issues that the world is facing, creating reusable resources and reducing carbon dioxide emissions is of utmost importance. Therefore, in 2013, the company established and constructed a total solution pyrolysis system for scrap tyres, from tyre collecting and crushing to pyrolysising, with a capacity to process 36,000 tonne scrap tyres annually, touted to be the world's largest pyrolysis process plant.
According to Andy Yuan, Manager the process can treat any waste 100 per cent, and transform them to produce high-quality products. The current process by the company has already converted unwanted, solvable waste into new usable resources, such as steel wires, steam, pyrolysis oil and eco-carbon black.
Going forward, the company is in the process of setting up its second plant in Taiwan, which will be completed in the next 18 months and will help arrest the waste generated by tyres in the country by 2020. The company will invest around $20 million in this plant.
Our next visit was equally interesting!
The Commission of National Corporations, Ministry of Economic Affairs assigned China Steel Corporation the mission of directing reinvestment from other public and private enterprises in China Ecotek Corporation (CEC), which was founded in March 1993. Apart from various achievements and accumulation of technology in electromechanical engineering and environmental engineering projects, such as incinerators, water treatment facilities and waste treatment plants, CEC has gradually expanded into areas such as steam electricity cogeneration, railways and metro systems, biotechnology, corrosion and leak-resistance engineering and whole-plant turnkey projects.
In addition, CEC has also stepped up technological collaboration with domestic and foreign firms as it increasingly moves towards high-tech environmental areas. At present, the company is installing 10 projects in the world including one in India's Uttar Pradesh on a public-private partnership. That apart, the company is also working with Taiwan government in managing a water treatment plant at Kaohsiung on a built, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
The high speed journey
In the last leg of this interesting tour, a surprise was on the cards for all touring journalists in the form of Taiwan high speed railway. With India still dreaming of a high-speed rail network, IT took a ride from Kaohsiung to Taipei, a distance of around 362 km in Taiwan high speed railway, at a speed of 300 km per hour. And, guess what? The distance was covered in a mere 90 minutes. Yes, you heard it right! I, personally, was spellbound with the technological wonders from the point of entering the station to taking my designated seat. It was a lightning journey to cherish indeed!
At Taipei, the last company on our agenda was Delta Electronics Inc., a conglomerate with a legacy behind. The company was founded in 1971 and has been the global leader in switching power supply solutions since 2002 and DC brushless fans since 2006. Delta offers the most energy-efficient power products in the industry, including switching power supplies with over 90 per cent efficiency, telecom power with up to 98 per cent and PV inverters with up to 98.8 per cent efficiency.
'We have also developed the world's first server power supply certified as 80 Plus Titanium with over 96 per cent efficiency. We commonly invest 6 to 7 per cent of our annual sales revenues in R&D and have R&D facilities worldwide in Taiwan, China, Europe, India, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the US,' said Johny Shih, Project Manager.
Till date, the company's solar tracking system has helped synchronise 10,000+ mirror heliostats for a large concentrated solar power plant in Nevada, USA, which produces over 500 million kw hours of electricity per year. Meanwhile, taking advantage of India's smart cities mission, Delta has provided advanced Video Wall solution for India's first smart city centre in Surat, Gujarat, to monitor over 30 different operations for city management.
A reliable and fully redundant display solution is extremely vital for the effective operation of a smart city centre. With expertise in display solutions, Delta installed its 4x4 LED-lit 70' DLP« Video Wall for this strategic centre.
With the help of Delta's Video Wall and Video Wall Controller, data that feeds from various sources - including transport, city planning, water supply, property tax, disease surveillance, CCTV, health, GIS, traffic signals, illegal constructions and others - can be monitored by control room operators. The sharp image quality of Delta's Full HD Video Wall gives operators high-level images with clear details.
A breathtaking experience awaited me at the world's tallest green building - Taipei 101. The entire building is equipped with more than 100,000 points, which monitor energy management. In addition, the finance centre has deployed in-house waste management system and dedicated an entire floor to it. Isn't it interesting! Michael Chia-Hao Liu, Vice President & Corporate Spokesperson said, 'Taipei 101 has spent five years and invested over 20 million NTD for this certification, carrying out upgrades and renewals of various equipment and systems, while installing new measures for smart energy management, green lighting, air conditioning, energy-saving and environmentally-friendly electricity. The investment may be substantial, but it is definitely worth it for this island nation.'
So what's so special about this building?
Energy-saving - The building has saved 184 GW per hour in energy consumption since 2007, this is despite the financial tower occupancy rate increasing to 95.79 per cent by the end of 2015, a 50,000 sq m increase compared to 2007. Including power consumption of the shopping mall, Taipei 101 has saved 262 GW per hour, which is equivalent to a reduction of 139,083 tonne of carbon emissions.
Water Saving - Taipei 101 installed water-saving equipment in all toilets, which saves 50,000 tonne of water annually, equivalent to the total water consumption of 140 households of four members. Also, by utilising outdoor platforms, Taipei 101 recycles rainwater for 100 per cent reuse. Rainwater collected through the water collection system is used to water all plants in the building and the shopping mall, as well as in the washrooms in the shopping mall. During years with high precipitations, Taipei 101 can save approximately 58,000 tonne of water. Further, Taipei 101 is fully installed with smart digital water metre and water-saving equipment and facilities for more effective monitoring and utilisation, thus preventing water wastage.
Recycling - Excluding the shopping mall, Taipei 101's total wastes in 2015 weighed 1,214 tonne, of which 943 tonne was recyclable and 271 tonne was unrecyclable, and the recycling rate reached 77 per cent. From collection, classification, packaging, weighing to removal of wastes, Taipei 101 pays attention to every step of the waste management procedure. It features an enclosed garbage disposal system where unrecyclable wastes from different floors go through an automated process that shreds and presses the wastes, which are then removed from the building via garbage containers. This process saves manpower and eliminates messy environment, thus propelling the cycle of waste management.
- RAHUL KAMAT