We caught up with Helge Rau, head of M&A at wpd, on the sidelines of our Hong Kong Summit to discuss the renewables opportunity in Asia. The conversation quickly turned to Taiwan and offshore wind, with Rau explaining all the reasons why the country is currently a ‘hotspot’, as well as the the lessons Europe can provide.
Q: How good is the wind as an investment opportunity across the Asia-Pacific region?
HR: Wind is one of the key drivers for the expansion of renewables in Asia. There are a couple of markets which are quite interesting, starting with Taiwan, which is really a hotspot right now, but also other markets like Japan and South Korea coming up for onshore and offshore wind. So, I guess it’s quite a good investment opportunity over the next decades, because there is a growing need for energy in Asia and there is lots of room to install onshore and offshore wind power plants.
Q: Why has Taiwan become one of the most exciting offshore wind markets in the region?
HR: Taiwan has become one of the most exciting hotspots in the region because there is a strong political ambition behind it, so there is an attractive feed-in-tariff scheme that has been put in place, providing for a stable environment [and offering] feed-in-tariffs that make your projects sustainable. And there are ambitious political goals. What you can see when you’re dealing with the various political bodies is that the political environment is behind it and pushing things forward. So, I guess that has driven the attention of a lot of big players that have entered the market and that has really pushing it right now. There are a lot of people coming into it and the industry has really built up so it’s got self-sustaining momentum right now. But it’s all driven by the political will behind it and the environment that has been set. And then of course there’s some natural resources in terms of wind resource and radiation and things like that.
Q: What lessons can the Taiwanese offshore wind market learn from the European offshore wind market?
HR: The lesson that the Taiwanese wind market learn from the European offshore wind market is that you need to have a good supply chain, good technology being established but you also need to take care of proper project development. So, kind of taking care of the various permits – you can do a lot of mistakes in that. But then to gain momentum you need to establish the right players in the industry, the developers and all that, but also to take care of the financing. You need to line that properly and then I’m sure [the market] will be a big success.