Taiwan Net Zero Pathways

Achieving Net Zero requires unprecedented innovation across the economy in new technologies, new ways of deploying existing technologies, new business models, new consumer offerings, and, crucially, new policy, regulation, and market design.

As an important member of the international community with a significant industrial base and reliance on international trade, Taiwan has a key role to play in tackling climate change.

Although responsible for less than 1% of the world’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, the country was the 22nd largest emitter in 2020. As international environmental pressure builds, and more and more countries strive for emissions reductions and introduce carbon border incentives to source from low emitting locations, there is also an emerging economic incentive to do so.

Taiwan is striving to achieve Net Zero by 2050, as detailed in the Climate Change Response Act (Environmental Protection Administration, 2021).

To support this agenda, the Taiwan Net Zero Pathways project was commissioned by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) – administered by the British Office Taipei – and Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy (BoE) – supported by a local team from the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

Through national modelling, the project sought to produce Net Zero Scenarios for Taiwan and make policy suggestions to support its green transition.

The Challenge

As with most countries, the challenges and opportunities faced by Taiwan in reducing their GHG emissions and the context within which they are doing this, are unique. For example, while many western countries have had long term sustained historical emissions, Taiwan saw a much later and sharper increase in emissions as the economy grew in recent decades. The export-dependent nature of Taiwan’s economy also places unique challenges related to the impact of consumption vs production emissions accounting.

In every country targeting Net Zero, the challenges posed, and therefore the appropriate solutions will be different. However, there are four categories that the broad array of potential actions fit into. Any package of measures leading to Net Zero is very likely to need elements of all of these: 1) Demand reduction 2) Fuel/vector switching, 3) Renewable energy generation, and 4) Negative emissions.

Modelling methods are helpful in understanding the different pathways to Net Zero, however as projections reach out to 2050, there is significant uncertainty in many of the limitations and measures. As well as in the cost, availability, and performance of the technologies, and in potential changes to energy service demands.

For this reason, scenarios are often used to model and investigate multiple plausible futures. Modelling is not a means to predict the future, it is merely a tool that can be used to investigate how the system may develop given a set of assumptions. Scenarios allow the comparison of multiple futures based on multiple sets of assumptions.

Modelling different scenarios provides a method for investigating uncertainties and identifying potential least cost and low regret solutions.

The Solution

To deliver scenarios for Taiwan, Energy Systems Catapult reconfigured our internationally peer-reviewed in-house Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME) tool to provide a least-cost, whole system platform for modelling future energy pathways. This beta model facilitated the optimisation of energy planning in an integrated way across all sectors including energy resources and carriers, power and conversion, infrastructure, and energy use in transport, industry, and the built environment.

ESME is a policy neutral, least-cost optimisation model designed to explore technology options for a carbon-constrained energy system, subject to additional constraints, for instance around energy security and peak energy demand. ESME covers the power, transport, buildings and industry sectors, and the infrastructure that underpins them, in five-year time-steps from 2015 to 2050. It has previously been upgraded to allow least-cost Net Zero trajectories for the UK by 2050 to be achieved and therefore is well positioned to provide the insights and a wide variety of scenarios.

The project followed the process outlined in Figure 1. Following an initial phase of evidence gathering, comparison study and overview of likely Net Zero options, an energy system optimisation model (ESOM) for Taiwan was developed based on the Catapult’s Energy System Modelling Environment (EMSE). This was utilised to investigate potential pathways for the Taiwanese energy system to 2050. A further policy review was then undertaken to suggest policy ideas which could support the transition.

Figure 1. Process followed by the Project.

Figure 1. Process followed by the Project.

Our approach included the following high-level activities:

  • Analyses of the Taiwanese energy system, energy supply, demand, and the power system to identify the possible applications and deployments
  • Consideration of   key   indicators such   as   such   as   technology   readiness   level, cost   competitiveness, Taiwan’s natural resources, regulations and policy ecosystem, market, and socio-environmental impacts
  • Initial scenario setting and validation
  • Further development of three scenarios based on future realistic pathways for the Taiwanese energy system to 2050, including different mixes of technologies and behaviours applicable to Taiwan
  • Considerations and assumptions relating to key sectors such as Transport, Electricity, Industry and Buildings
  • Development of a model to represent the Taiwanese energy system, using an adaptation of the Catapult’s Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME)
  • Implementing scenarios, model runs and analyses

The Impact

Through Energy Systems Catapult’s modelling we produced insight across three main scenarios out to 2050:

  • TEC which represents a scenario which includes optimistic assumptions on the technology innovation axis, but less optimistic about the availability of societal changes.
  • SOC which makes the opposite assumptions around technology innovation and societal change.
  • BAL which takes a balanced set of assumptions somewhere between TEC and SOC. The assumptions made under this scenario are not as optimistic as those seen in the individual TEC and SOC scenarios but takes some elements of each.

Across the three scenarios, using our modelling we produced projections on the below to inform a high-level road map:

  • Sectoral emissions across hydrogen, transports, buildings, electricity, industry and DACC.
  • Annual primary resource consumption
  • Energy use and generation across electricity, industry and transport (included expected uptake of EVs)
  • Hydrogen production
  • Estimated cost of decarbonisation

Key insights derived:

  • Industrial decarbonisation is critical and contributes the highest residual emissions in 2050 in all scenarios.
  • Bioenergy, if available and sustainable, provides a particularly useful offset as it can be utilised within conversion plant, operating to produce electricity, hydrogen or heat for industry.
  • Direct air capture is utilised extensively, and Taiwan is well placed to exploit this given its renewable resources and heavy industry.
  • Wind, solar power, storage and CCS are all critical technologies and should all be actively pursued,
  • Imports of hydrogen will play a role in – near-term and long-term. In all scenarios blue hydrogen is considered largely to be a proxy for imported hydrogen, especially within the TEC scenario. However, the practicalities of extensive use of hydrogen imports will depend upon future global markets or any bilateral agreements that Taiwan could strike with providers.
  • Within the power sector, renewable energy is limited in regret, with the “stopping point” dependent on deployment, acceptability and capabilities of alternative technologies.
  • Transportation transitions to essentially zero emissions in the long term. The scenarios present varying pathways to zero emission transport, although typically they delay the transition due to the relative expense of some of the zero emission vehicles.

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