Taiwan Takes Its Place Among Industry Leaders
Taiwan Takes Its Place Among Industry Leaders
By Bettina Weiss, Executive Director, PV Group
Taiwan's high-tech industry is one of the great success stories in the world economy. Its companies may not be global brand names, but they are leaders in manufacturing in key categories such as flat panel displays, computer chips, routers, notebook computers, and now PV. According to the PV Status Report 2010 announced by the European Commission in August, PV cell production capacity in Taiwan is projected to reach 3GW in 2010 making Taiwan the 3rd largest solar cell production site in the world. Last quarter solar sales rose 95 percent to $1.1 billion.
Renewable Energy Development Act
While Taiwan is making its mark contributing to global PV capacity, it is increasingly contributing its share on the supply side as well. Last year, the Taiwan Legislative Yuan gave its final approval to the Renewable Energy Development Act to increase solar demand and bolster the development of Taiwan’s green energy industry. SEMI PV Group was active in supporting the new law, organizing legislative meetings and educational programs. The renewable energy law authorized the Government to enhance feed-in tariff incentives for the development of solar energy and other programs to enhance industrial development. Among the goals of the law was the mandate to increase Taiwan’s renewable energy generation capacity by 6.5 GW to a total of 10 GW within 20 years. Since the feed-n tariff was established, Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) had received 981 photovoltaic (PV) system projects filed for application for feed-in tariff subsidization with total installation capacity of 151MWp, far exceeding the target of 64MWp for 2010.
With a booming export economy and growing local demand, how has Taiwan made such a big impact on the global industry?
Some of the answers to this question are on display at PV Taiwan, held this week in Taipei, and organized by the SEMI PV Group and Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). PV Taiwan is the industry’s largest solar event here and is represented by all sectors of the supply chain, from ingots, to cell and modules, to balance of systems. This year’s show has over 250 exhibitors and will attract over 10,000 visitors. Exhibitors include world leaders c-Si technology include Motech, E-ton, DJ Solar, Neo Solar, and GinTech, and many emerging thin film solar leaders, such as Arima, Chei Mei, Sunwell, Auria, and Sunner.
Global equipment and materials suppliers from around the world have been supporting Taiwan’s aggressive ramp in solar capacity. According to Solarbuzz, c-Si cell makers in Taiwan are “purchasing standard tool types from leading c-Si equipment suppliers such as Rena, Roth and Rau, Amtech, Centrotherm, Schmid, Applied Materials (Baccini) and Despatch.”
SEMI PV Group is fortunate to count these companies among its membership and to see Taiwan’s solar leaders committed to PV Taiwan and the PV Group. The Taiwan PV Advisory Board now consists of over 25 members, representing nearly every major PV company in Taiwan.
Hsinchu Science Park
Taiwan offers a useful model for high tech and solar industry development. Admirers of Taiwan tech point to the success of Hsinchu Science Park, founded in 1980 to spur technological development by offering tax breaks and other incentives to lure investors.
Today, Hsinchu boasts over 400 companies, including famous names such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's biggest chip foundry, and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., the world's biggest contract manufacturer of mobile phones.
In addition to the science parks, the government has played a key role in establishing special funds for national scientific development, working out long-term plans and organization of specific responsibilities, and completing experimental centers for academic research. The government takes an active planning role in bolstering national competitiveness through science and technology legislation. They have long devised policies to develop important technologies based on the recommendations of the national science and technology conferences, which solicit opinions from industry, government agencies, and academic institutions.
Industrial Technology Research Institute
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is the non-profit research institute located in Taiwan under the supervision of the Republic of China Ministry of Economic Affairs. It conducts R&D and other programs to advance private sector growth, spur innovation and accelerate commercialization. ITRI has over 6,000 employees and an operating budget of about US$510 million, half of which comes from private sources – an impressive budget for a research facility and one reason behind its significance and impact.
Every government in the world can learn something from ITRI. They are highly flexible in creating partnership with the private sector, with programs focused on technology diffusion, technical assistance, research, special projects and technology transfer. ITRI has also been an active participant in the SEMI International Standards Program to tie R&D and technology development to cost reduction and process efficiency in the fab. The transfer of technology can be done through transferring of patent rights, joint venture, or creating spin-off companies. What most people say works at ITRI is their focus on private sector development and their pragmatism; they are flexible and committed to their mission to aid Taiwan’s industrial development.
This highly successful model or public-private partnership has helped create a dynamic cluster of semiconductor and now PV solar innovation. Through forums like PV Taiwan, customers and suppliers from around the world are charged to seek solutions to today’s most pressing technical challenges. You can feel the energy on the show floor, and see it in the marketplace.
SEMI PV Group, The Grid - October 2010