Taiwan’s Energy (In) Security: Challenges to Growth and Development

Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
26(1) 110 –126, 2022
© 2022 Jadavpur University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/09735984221087484
Taiwan’s Energy (In)
Security: Challenges
to Growth and
Prachi Aggarwal1
Taiwan, especially after the ‘Taiwan miracle’ has had a meteoric rise, faster
than any of its big neighbors, and is now considered among one of the
most developed regions of the world. Yet not all is sheen and glory when
the costs of development are added especially in energy terms and more
so when 99 percent of it is imported from abroad. Taiwan lacks in almost
all forms of energy apart from a smattering of coal and gas and is almost
entirely dependent on imports for its energy needs. Also, Taiwan imports
from the world’s most vulnerable regions. This leaves it in a precarious
position as Taiwan’s growth rates are not only unsustainable but also
threaten to collapse if it continues its dependence on imports. This naturally
attracts it toward the renewable energy sector, especially nuclear energy.
However, given the fact that the entire world is proceeding toward a
‘clean technology’ establishment, would Taiwan be able to race against the
bigwigs, or will its energy scarcity bring it closer to its impending economic
penury shall be discussed here.
Energy, scarcity, import, renewable, growth
1 Department of Foreign Languages, Sanchi University of Buddhist Indic-Studies, Sanchi,
Madhya Pradesh, India
Corresponding author:
Prachi Aggarwal, Department of Foreign Languages, Sanchi University of Buddhist
Indic-Studies, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh 464661, India.
E-mail: 28.prachi@gmail.com
Aggarwal 111
The Republic of China or Taiwan is often known internationally for its
political positions rather than its economic activities. Yet, Taiwan,
despite representing a small geographical area has shown its resilience
in its sustained and continued economic development. However,
Taiwan has paid a heavy price for its economic development through
its energy consumption. Taiwan is perhaps one of the few countries of
the world where more than 95 percent of the energy is imported and
that too from the world’s most vulnerable nations of the world. In 2020,
Taiwan’s energy supply was 138.48 million kiloliters of oil equivalent
(KLOE) out of which 97.8 percent was imported (BoE, MOEA 2020).
Armstrong (2015) argues that the problem with Taiwan’s energy
structure is not just limited to the high volume of its imports but also
incorporates the question of the positioning of its supplier areas. Unlike
the United State, Taiwan imports a large quality of its products from the
most vulnerable areas of the world like the Middle East. In Taiwan’s
energy mix, petroleum occupies 50 percent of Taiwan’s energy structure
out of which 81.6 percent is imported from the Middle East (Ibid.).
This leaves Taiwan exposed to various international vagaries of
international politics as well as domestic political turbulence of the
supplier states. Another strong feature of Taiwan’s energy mix is coal
which occupies almost 31 percent of Taiwan’s energy imports.
The main supplier of coal for Taiwan is China which although possesses
a stable domestic structure and has a strong international presence, but,
does not provide concrete relief to Taiwan due to its long-standing
border dispute and tumultuous neighborly relations with China (Ibid.).
This sometimes creates rifts in the import–export trade pattern of the
two nations. This is in stark contrast to other established countries like
the United States, which not only have enough reserves for domestic
production but also imports from neighbors like Canada with which it
shares natural bonhomie and trust (Fox 2011). Similarly, China despite
dwindling resources, not only boasts of a decent reserve of coal but
also has a strong lobby of national oil companies like Sinopec,
PetroChina, CNOOC which have undertaken massive energy
investments under China’s ‘Go Out’ policy and have assisted China’s
energy mix in providing critical fossil fuels to the country. Also, China
is dabbling in diversifying its supplier areas to reduce its dependence
on the Middle East. This is a zone which though Taiwan has also been
working on but has not achieved much success.

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