為了永續,你願意買

綠色電力嗎?
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2011 / 6月

文‧滕淑芬



「沒有核電,台灣會缺電嗎?」這真是一個老問題,但至今仍然沒有一個肯定答案,因為台電不願或沒有精算過,數據的不公開讓環保團體與政府長久以來各執一詞。

同樣是夏日用電高峰前,1995年光華就探討過缺電的問題。當時連續幾年台灣的夏日常無預警停電、分區限電的措施更讓產業界和民眾頭痛不已,然而當時突然停電並不是電力不足,而是台電管理效率低、國內經濟發展快速,用電成長率大幅攀升(8%),幅度幾乎是全世界最高,讓電力負載過大。

對能源幾乎都仰賴進口的台灣而言,早年因「拚經濟」,電力和經濟成長同步升高,但如今卻是無法承受的「重」,歐洲有些國家已可做到經濟持續成長,電力零成長。為什麼我們做不到?

其中一個關鍵因素就是我們的電費太便宜了。低電價有其歷史背景,在前行政院長孫運璿努力讓戰後台灣全面復電的時代,政府就採取低電價政策,肩負起維持產業競爭力、優惠特定用戶與事業的使命,當所有物價飆升,電價硬是不能漲。

相較於亞洲鄰近國家,我國電價明顯偏低。以2008年工業用電平均單價為例,日本、南韓、新加坡和香港分別為每度新台幣4.38元、1.89元、4.44元和2.93元,我們則是2.02元。住宅用電亦然,日本、南韓、新加坡和香港分別為每度6.5元、2.81元、5.99元和3.79元,都高於我們的2.58元。其次,主計處的統計也顯示,我國住宅用戶的電費支出占1.22%,水費支出占0.14%,通訊費支出占2.3%,水電費比通訊費還低。

政府為顧及電價變動對產業與民生的影響,過去二十年屢次延緩調整電價(2008年曾調漲),使得電價與能源成本脫節;更甚者,電價偏低也會誤導消費者,民眾不珍惜電力,不利於節約能源,也不利於溫室氣體減量。

早年國家為了促進產業發展,提供優惠電價,卻往往扭曲資源分配,變相對高耗能產業補貼。台北大學張四立教授的研究指出,台灣電子業的電費支出占營收不到1%,即使最耗能的鋼鐵業也不過4%,低電價讓產業界沒有積極節能的誘因。

綠能大廠台達電董事長鄭崇華近日曾說,世界各國都面臨能源結構的調整,希望政府能夠端出一套完整的綠能政策,但長期偏低的水電價,讓台灣的綠能政策很難出爐。

「再生能源貴多少?算給我們看。如果沒有核電,電價要做多大調整?如果我們已經有綠色電力,為什麼不能讓民眾自由選擇購買?」這是經濟部舉辦的公聽會上環保團體提出的問題。

綠色電價是先進國家為提供再生能源發展資金而實施的「用戶自願購買」機制。台灣何時才能購買綠色電力?而未來核電除役後,電費又該如何調整?是民間說的一年增加一千元,還是馬英九總統決定三座核電廠不延役後,台電初估的電價會漲一倍,算出來吧!綠色電力也許不能立刻翻轉台灣的能源政策,但至少能讓台灣的能源供應有脫胎換骨的機會。

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[Editor's Note]Are You Willing to Pay for Green Energy?

Teng Sue-feng /tr. by Scott Williams


"Will Taiwan run short of energy without nuclear power plants?" It's an old question that still lacks an answer, because Taipower has not or will not run the numbers. The veiling of this data has allowed environmental groups and the government to answer the question however they please.

This magazine examined summertime power shortfalls back in 1995. At that time, Taiwan had experienced several summers punctuated by unexpected blackouts and measures to limit electricity consumption, creating enormous headaches for industry and the public. The sudden blackouts weren't caused by lack of -power, but by excessive loads resulting from Tai-power's inefficient management of the grid and the rapid growth of the domestic economy.

In Taiwan, which imports most of its energy, electricity demand has grown in step with the economy. In contrast, in recent years various countries have succeeded in delinking economic growth from electricity demand. Why can't we do the same?

One key problem is the low price we pay for power. Cheap power is a legacy of government policy that dates back to former Premier Sun Yun-suan's efforts to restore electricity to all of postwar Taiwan. The idea was to favor certain users and activities and ensure that local industry remained competitive. Prices for other goods may have soared, but electricity prices remained largely unchanged.

They're cheap relative to those of our neighbors. In 2008, the average prices of electricity for industrial use in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong were respectively NT$4.38, NT$1.89, NT$4.44, and NT$2.93 per kilowatt-hour, versus NT$2.02 in Taiwan. The story is much the same for residential power, which in those nations cost NT$6.5, NT$2.81, NT$5.99, and NT$3.79 per kWh, respectively, versus NT$2.58 in Taiwan. According to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, electricity accounts for 1.22% of Taiwanese household expenditures and water for just 0.14%, while communications account for 2.3%. That is, we spend less on water and electricity than we do on our telecom bills.

To insulate businesses and the public from price spikes, the government has postponed price adjustments several times over the last 20 years (prices were raised in 2008), causing local electricity prices to diverge from energy costs. Low prices have also caused consumers to undervalue power, which is detrimental to efforts to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The government originally provided preferential electricity rates to encourage industrial development. But the policy distorted the allocation of resources and became, in effect, a subsidy for energy-intensive industries. Research by National Tai-pei University's Professor Chang Ssu-li shows that Taiwan's tech industry spends less than 1% of its revenues on electric power, and that even the power-hungry steel industry spends less than 4%. Low costs have given industry little incentive to conserve.

Bruce Cheng, chairman of green-energy heavyweight Delta Electronics, recently noted that the nations of the world are making adjustments to their power systems and expressed the hope that the government in Taiwan would roll out a comprehensive green-energy strategy. But our long history of low power and water prices has made it difficult to assemble such a policy.

"How much more expensive is renewable energy?" asked environmental groups at a hearing organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. "Let's see the numbers. How much higher would prices be without nuclear power? If we're already generating green power, why aren't we giving the public the option to buy it?"

Developed nations are making use of voluntary green-energy purchases by en-ergy users to provide renewable energy with the funds it needs to develop further. When will Taiwanese households have the choice of purchasing green energy? How much should their power bills increase after the three existing nuclear plants are retired, following President Ma's decision not to extend their lives? By NT$1,000 per year, as NGOs have suggested? Or will they double, as Taipower has claimed? We need numbers. Green energy might not turn Taiwan's energy policy around overnight, but it would at least put the transformation of our energy system on the table.

 

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