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LEDs lead way in Taiwan's $1bn energy plan

Approximately one-tenth of the overall investment looks destined for LED research, with further subsidies to help manufacturers weather the "financial tsunami".

Taiwan s cabinet has passed a motion calling for NT$45 billion ($1 billion) investment in “green energy” technology, which will strongly benefit the country's LED industry.

Under the plan NT$20 billion will be invested in research and development, and NT$25 billion in infrastructure deployment projects and subsidies over the next five years.

Specific infrastructure elements include installing 700,000 LED traffic lights and building Asia s largest solar power plant.

Ian Chan, of the Industrial and Technical Research Institute (ITRI) of Taiwan says that NT$4 billion will be spent directly on LED technical research.

Chan, who is vice president and general director of ITRI s Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories, says that subsidies would also increase domestic LED demand by NT$40 billion.

LED component and system makers are most likely to benefit from the plan, Chan says, including companies such as Everlight, Unity Opto Tech and BrightLED. However, funds will undoubtedly trickle down to die producers.

“In the short-term, this plan will encourage investment and will help the Taiwan LED industry overcome the financial tsunami,” Chan told compoundsemiconductor.net. “It can also speed up building a complete LED lighting industrial chain.”

The purpose of the overall plan is to turn green energy into a NT$1.15 trillion industry by 2015. Economy minister Yiin Chii-ming said that the research and development element is designed to induce NT$200 billion investment from the private sector.

ITRI plays an important role in developing Taiwan s industrial technology, Chan points out, and the renewable energy sector is no different.

“We are really optimistic about this NT$1 trillion target,” Chan said. “With support from government and impetus from the ITRI, the industry will definitely usher in a new era.”

However, much of the plan hinges on the passage of a long-stalled bill through Taiwan s legislature prior to the end of the current session, which concludes in July.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has weighed in to stress the need to pass a version of the bill, which should provide a legal basis for the procurement and production of renewable energy. The bill, which has lain idle in the legislature for six years, should establish a viable market, and remove hurdles to alternative energy development.

With photovoltaics, wind power, and biofuels all covered by the plan, this could be a key stumbling block.

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