Taiwan… Unplugged!?

By Rebecca Kehl

You know those days when the power goes out and your fridge stops working and waters dripping from the freezer and there’s no air-con and it’s like 35°C? And you try to plug in your computer cuz it’s low on battery.  You need to send that paper in and get back to your boss but nothing happens?

In a frenzy you think about going to your neighbours’ who you used to borrow a cup of flour from, just to charge up a while. These days you guys trade the new gadgets that come out, but he still thinks his part of the balcony that we share is bigger than it is (we live in condos); his family’s laundry is always hung way over into this side. 無聊。

Your addiction to the Internet makes you itchin’ to slip on your flipflops and head over, despite it all. Not to mention, the cigarettes he lends you. Dirty habit, especially when the wind doesn’t blow the smoke away.

Then you remember you could always go to that big, new Starbucks just across the pond even though you haven’t gotten the new job yet and you’re currently underemployed. Overall, you just don’t want to feel dependent and needy! You start feeling guilty just thinking about slinking in cuz you already know you’re only gonna buy that cheap cup of black coffee that is too acidic anyway, just to get a seat and plug in… You walk slowly towards the door feeling heavy and the phone rings. A call from your old buddy, Bhārat!

Despite not hearing from each other for ages, your relationship was always peaceful and you pick up where you left off. You tell him your power woes and for some reason it didn’t really phase him because it’s common in his area to never have power. In fact he listed some health benefits of a no power community: eating dinner by candlelight; winding down when the sun goes down and snuggling with your loved one; not being fed garbage by the idiot-box and less time in front of electronics, leading to lower stress and fewer cases of ADD in children; less smog as there’re no coal-burning thermal power plants in the area…”

I started thinking, ‘Man… when was the last time I noticed the sun going down, let alone caught a sunset?’

He continues on, “Hey, recently, there’s this Indian billionaire, a Manoj Bhargava, who invented a ‘free electric’ hybrid bicycle that converts peddling to power!”

He goes on, “Some companies also noticed how much they spend on energy from the grid, and have completely switched over to solar power. One such example is the airport near the city of Kochi. This baby even feeds back into the grid, making money for the company. So, I really don’t get why other companies, even the small ones, or families, are waiting around for their government to do something about it. You just got to do it yourself.”

The first airport to run fully on solar power: Cochin Airport in the state of Kerala, India.
The first airport worldwide to run fully on the power from more than 46,000 solar panels is Cochin Airport in the state of Kerala, India.

I listened in awe, mulling thing over a bit. It was true. Here we are living on the island that produces the god-damn solar panels, and apparently they’re too expensive or under-advertised or not widely encouraged for the general population to start investing and installing them on all the empty and flat roofs above our heads in all the cities of Taiwan… Talk about a waste of space, resources, and money. Many people could be energy-independent by now and potentially selling energy back.


 

Data from Energy Statistics Handbook, 2012, BOE, MOEA
Can Taiwan blame China for the smog? Let’s own the air problem and find solutions. 🙂 Source: http://www.brookings.edu/…/09/12-taiwan-energy-security-liao

Formosa may not be running out of electricity. But the fact is Taiwan is importing an awful lot of its energy from other parts of the world: 98%.  And all of it is dirty and nonrenewable.

Does Taiwan want to be self-sufficient?
Don’t we all?

The BIGGEST key to sustainable (and clean!) power to keep Formosa formosa, is to get it by your own means: your own solar panels, your own wind turbines, your own hydro-generators, on your own.

Did you know:
The world’s largest coal-burning power station is in Taiwan’s Taichung?
Incredible!

Dear small business, restaurant, and coffee shop owners:
You may be paying around 20,000 NTD (610 USD) or more per month just for electricity. The biggest key to saving money is to generate it, not buy it. To save money is to make money: investing in long-term energy savings is the way to go, and the sooner the better. 🙂 Do the Math.

Imagine Taiwanese companies invested in exercise equipment to have under-exercised office workers take turns peddling once a day? A company of, say, 24 employees could have each employee peddling for 20 min/day in an 8-hour work day so that they are generating 8 hours of energy for the building’s energy needs.

Green living in all its forms is very trendy! From artist & DIY markets, to gardening, to fashion, to reusables, to recycling & composting, to farmers’ markets and healthy relationships with plants & animals, from green transportation to renewable energy…  This is where it’s at!  It’s like a great return from the prestige of white bread and other refined foods that were less affordable in the 50’s, back to sprouted grain breads that are now the more expensive.

Air pollution sucks, and a variety of cities all around Taiwan are in the purple alert zone for dangerous air. World-round, the oil economy is not stable nor safe. Oil & gas starts wars (rr… fearful, greedy, deceitful humans). Anyway, imagine depending on something very cool like the sun, wind, and ocean tides! Or an exercise bike!

Flexible solar panels: easy to ship, roll out, install, and… Ta-da! The video looks boring, but…

You’d be surprised how many companies are producing them in Taiwan, and how available they are world wide. Here is a Taiwanese company called Million Rooftop PVs that will give you all the information you need, and lead you in the right direction to the right company to start living more safely, greenly, and cheaply:  https://mrpv.org.tw/index.php

陽光屋頂百萬座
陽光屋頂百萬座計畫推動辦公室,目標建立我國太陽光電設置應用完善環境,積極推動太陽光電發電系統。http://mrpv.org.tw

When times are hard you must always have yourself.  Self-reliance and interdependence is as good for a person as it is for a country. Interdependence means maintaining valuable connections with other wholes, but not dependent on them. Though we sustain relationships by giving and receiving to meet needs and bring joy, we don’t fall to pieces if there is a separation. We don’t scramble to find new alliances to meet those needs (a rebound) as if we have no resources within ourselves to brave the temporary storm. Instead, we take our time standing on our own two feet, meeting our own needs with our own means, until a suitable and symbiotic partnership appears on the horizon.

Cuba is a wonderful example of working things out alone as an island country. First, imagine being targeted by the giant American nation economically, militarily, and politically, regardless of support from the then USSR. When the USSR pulled out because of their own problems, Cuba received far fewer imports from them and was alone to produce their own food. Starting out, they had no food. Now organic gardens called organoponics are found in the city of Havana, producing more than 70% of the food for the needs of the capital’s population. Imagine.
When Cuba and Russia were tight, Cubans were guaranteed 4 parts oil for 1 part sugar cane. But since trade relations improved globally, Russia got better access to the market, and Cuba is now guaranteed only 1 part oil for 1 part sugar cane.  That’s a significant reduction. Cubans had no choice but to come together. They were resourceful, they succeeded, and today their culture is vibrant and healthy and self-sufficient except for their dependence on their greatest import, oil…
However… “In 2013, renewables supplied 37 percent of all the energy consumed in Granma Province and it currently has 3,664 renewable energy systems in operation.”

Cuba school with solar panels
Funny how the rural schools and farm houses are power by the sun, since they haven’t access to electricity, whereas the capital, Havana, is highly dependent on fossil fuel imports.

“Blessed with high solar radiation (over 5 kWh/square meter/day throughout the year, comparable to southern Arizona), Cuba has embarked on an ambitious rural photovoltaics program to bring electricity to the unserved parts of the population. The program is supported by the Cuban government, non-governmental organizations, and aid from Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Germany and India. The primary beneficiaries have been doctor’s offices, rural homes, and small communities. Over 50 community clinics and 295 homes have been electrified with photovoltaics… (1) Starting with hands-on energy education in the high schools, Cuba is training a new generation to understand and implement sustainable, environmentally sound energy sources.”

Dignity and Self-Sufficiency
Dignity and Self-Sufficiency

Highly successful energy projects in Taiwan:

1. Penghu Islands (wind, solar, and electric)
2. Y.S. Sun Green Building Research Centre in Tainan (LEED rating system, zero carbon emissions from solar and green roofs, UB FINE water reduction and recycling system)
3. National Stadium in Kaohsiung – solar
4. Million Rooftop PVs
5. Rising Green Energy Industry Program of 2014

and more…

 

 

(1)  J.A. Alabart, M. Rodriguez, R. Ramos, I. Batista, Yoel Moreira, Soe del C. Marquez, Centro de Investigaciones de Energia Solar, Santiago de Cuba. “Las Energias alternas: Una Opcion para El Desarrollo del Programa de Electrificacion Rural en Cuba.” Unpublished paper, 1996.

Moral of the story:

I think we need to breath a little too… Did you ever die when you ran out of power all those times? Or toilet paper? Or peanut butter?

Currently, 1.3 billion people live without any electricity. So yes, we can live without it. 🙂
Do you know what we really need? Highly oxygenated and clean air, clean drinking water, more trees, protected forests…

Rebecca Kehl

Canadian woman having spent a fair chunk of her young adult life in Formosa! The name of her game: healthy living, animals and trees, and finding ways to de-plasticize our daily lives, chemical-free! Dancer, wellness enthusiast, cappu-lover, true friend, human, woman, soul, stardust... ;)

2 thoughts on “Taiwan… Unplugged!?

  • December 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm
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    Now I know why T’aichung is so smoggy. One evening I rode my scooter up a short up into the hills, and looking back, I realized the city had disappeared. The smoke thickly layering the valley is so thick that only a short distance away and out of it made the city disappear from view. Here we are breathing in the filth of vehicles and fossil fuel power sources, and we don’t know it’s that bad. And typical of most countries in the world, no one seems to care that their kids are breathing in that junk all their lives and are shortening their lives by perhaps a decade because of it.

    Reply
  • December 3, 2015 at 1:37 am
    Permalink

    Interesting article. Only part I didn’t like is where you said g-d solar panels.

    Reply

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