IEKView：Renewable Energy to End Water and Electricity Shortages
In the global quest for sustainable development and carbon reduction, the trend is to improve the efficiency of energy resource utilization. It is an even bigger challenge in Taiwan, where a large proportion of energy resources depend on imports.
As for water resources, although Taiwan has plenty of rainfall, it is not easy to store water. Moreover, the water shortage crisis has become more prominent because of issues, such as aging reservoirs, excess pumping of groundwater, pipeline leakage, difficulties in developing new water sources and structural wastage coupled with changes in rainfall patterns due to climate change. This crisis not only affects people’s livelihoods but also restricts economic development. Regional energy resource regeneration management plants that integrate water reclamation, waste treatment and biomass energy are the new thinking of the circular economy adopted by new wastewater treatment plants in the US and Europe. This model integrates agricultural, forestry and domestic wastewater with thermal hydrolysis of organic wastes and methane power generation. It can purify sewage while producing valuable by-products such as renewable electricity and organic fertilizers.
Taiwan is a densely populated country and its energy is highly dependent on imports. New technology and the circular economy can provide new solutions to stabilize Taiwan’s power supply and demand. With the evolution and increasing popularity of IoT and AI, distribution automation, smart lighting, air conditioning and energy management systems can make energy generation and consumption more efficient in the future.
With the government’s promotion of smart grid deployment and renewable energy policies, the number of productive consumers is continually growing. If we can combine new technologies, such as block chain, IoT and microgrid, develop new point-to-point residual power-sharing services, and make good use of the additional profits from carbon credits to lower transaction costs, we will have an opportunity to become a circular economy model of energy sharing.
As for the construction industry in Taiwan, buildings are the main places where energy and water resources are consumed, and construction waste accounts for the bulk of industrial wastes. With the introduction of a circular economy, we can reduce the consumption of energy in a building and enhance its environmental sustainability. However, the introduction of circular economy for buildings requires a different model.
The life cycle of a building structure is up to 60 years. Therefore, we can reduce the energy consumption of building materials upstream by using reusable and remanufactured materials, such as removable modular steel building materials and 3D printing with recyclable materials and other new technologies and methods.
Besides, the life cycle of the building envelope is about 20 years. There are many types of materials and they are greatly influenced by building codes. Remanufacturing should be taken into account by using an ecological and passive energy-saving design as well as materials that are renewable and easy to maintain and renovate. The equipment used in the core system of buildings, such as power transmission, air conditioning, communication, water purification and sewage systems has a life cycle of about 15 years. With new service models, such as smart water resources or energy management services, we can enhance the efficiency and the comfort of the environment.
On the other hand, the life cycle of appliances is short. Renting instead of purchasing or demand-based services can improve the utilization rate.
In recent years, renewable energy and water recycling have drawn increasing attention. The government is actively promoting water recycling plants, energy resource integration parks and green energy installations. Leading domestic manufacturers such as TSMC, Formosa Plastics and China Steel have also invested in the reuse of water and energy recirculation, wastewater and chemical substances recycling and waste recirculation. ITRI has undertaken long-term development of water and renewable energy technology. In terms of water recycling, ITRI has developed Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB), BioNET, Fluidized Bed Crystallization (FBC), Electrodialysis Reversal (EDR) and Nano-filtration (NF), and has accrued experience and international competitiveness. In terms of bio-materials, ITRI has also developed biomass catalytic gasification technology through international cooperation.