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Hydropower is one of the most “traditional” renewable energies.  Hydropower technology is also the most mature technology.  Since the first hydropower plant was built in 1905, the utilisation of hydropower has been around for over a hundred years in Taiwan .  Because of environmental protection consideration, using a large reservoir with dam is getting very controversial and large-scale hydropower plants are no-longer planned.  The development of small hydropower plants is the trend.  In Taiwan , the definition of a small hydropower plant is below 20 MW.

In June 1995, the Water Resources Agency, MOEA and Taipower completed “Investigation Report on the Hydropower in Taiwan Area”.  The investigation includes the potential of theoretical hydropower and feasible hydropower. The theoretical hydropower includes 76 rivers.  Feasible hydropower only includes 30 important rivers.  The result shows that the potential of theoretical hydropower is 11,730 MW, and the potential of feasible hydropower is 5,000 MW.

Development Status

In Taiwan , many existing hydropower plants are old and their efficiency is very poor, so it is necessary to rebuild the gen-set.  At the end of 2005, the total installed capacity of hydropower is 4,539.9 MW (includes 2,602 MW of pump-storage hydropower plants). The energy contribution of normal hydropower is 4305.1 GWh in 2008.  Since 2001, contribution from hydro has decreased due to the aftermath of the big 21 September earthquake and typhoon damage.

Due to the limitation of natural conditions such as terrain, geology, hydrologic meteorology and public concerns, there are not too many more good sites for the setup of hydropower in Taiwan.  In the future, new projects are expected to be small and medium gen-set.  The hydropower target planned by BOE will be 2,168 MW by 2010.

Four IPP hydropower projects are currently underway with a total capacity of 68.3 MW.  Sieko hydropower plant is developed by Jainan Enterprise, located beside Zengwen Reservoir in Tainan County .  Its installed capacity is 11.5 MW and will be completed in October 2006.  Fongpinsi hydropower plant (the installed capacity is 37 MW), developed by Shefong Company, located in Hualien County will be completed in December 2006.  Minjan hydropower plant built by Minjan Power Company will be the first BOT hydropower plant in Taiwan.  It is located in Nantou County with an installed capacity of 16.7 MW and will be completed in July 2006.  Dongjen hydropower plant built by Dongjen Enterprise is located in Hualien County .  Its installed capacity is 2.7 MW and will be completed in June 2008.

Figure 1 Hydropower capacity and energy supply.