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Ground-mounted Solar Panel Governance in Taiwan – First Workshop: Consensus and Conclusions

3rd December 2021: Conclusion of solar panel governance workshop

Energy transition has become an important policy issue in the world and Taiwan. Solar panels have always played an important role in the process of promoting energy transition in Taiwan. At the same time, because of the large surface area needed for solar panels installation, it is more likely to affect general public’s daily lives. Therefore, the issues become complex and are prone to controversy or conflict. CIRES of National Dong Hwa University (NDHU) is an academic institute that aims to solve complex social-ecological issues and promote the interaction between science and policy. To face the urgent process of energy transition in Taiwan, along with the conflicts caused by the development gap of ground-mounted solar panels, the institute has started conducting research related to social, economic and ecology aspects in this issue. The institute also organizes a series of workshops to promote the integration and sustainable governance of social-ecological system through the participation of stakeholders.

Regarding issues related to the ground-mounted solar panels governance in Taiwan, the CIRES research team has identified eleven (11) important governance issues through interviews with specialists from different professional backgrounds and the literature review on domestic and international publications. In response to these issues, CIRES will gradually organize workshops by theme, and conduct detailed discussions on the regulations, systems, knowledge and technical guidelines involved in each issue. The first workshop was held on 3rd December 2021 (Friday) at the College of Environment Studies, NDHU. The workshop was moderated by Professor Hsing-Sheng Tai from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Studies, NDHU. More than 20 academics, civic groups and industry specialists were invited to conduct in-depth discussions on environmental and social impact analysis and response mechanism, several consensuses and conclusions have been initially reached:

Firstly, the stage of environmental and social inspection issues identification should be regarded as an inventory process without review; therefore, response and countermeasure will be produced based on each issue. With that, relevant principles and standards should be developed to correspond to the application and review principles related to the case. In addition, it is suggested that the central authority should formulate relevant measures against the contents of environmental and social inspection mechanism.

Secondly, the coexistence between environmental social inspection and environmental assessment mechanism is recommended. In the long run, it is recommended to amend Article 6 of the “Renewable Energy Development Regulations” to authorize the energy division at the national and local scale to formulate renewable energy development plans. Also, to adopt environmental social inspections method while the renewable energy development plan proposal is being drafted at the local scale. This is used to guide the review standards for subsequent renewable energy applications.

The preliminary conclusions of the above workshop will serve as the basis for future dialogues, policies and action initiatives. This workshop is just the beginning. We will continue to conduct research and discussions on various sub-issues with specialists from the government, academia, civic groups and industry, to promote the establishment of good ground-mounted solar panels governance policies and systems in Taiwan. And so, Taiwan can be well on its way to the goal of net-zero transition by 2050.

Group photo after the workshop

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