Tuesday, 12 April 2011

2nd Letter Against Winston Dang (陳重信)


In Tuesday's edition (12th April) Winston Dang (陳重信) made the following statement in paragraph eight of his editorial piece:
"If 20,000 hectares were used to generate electricity instead of planting trees, electricity equivalent to the amount produced by five Fourth Nuclear Power Plants could be produced. So how can one say that Taiwan does not have the necessary environment needed to develop green energy?"
If, by "green energy" readers are to understand that Dang is referring to an onshore wind farm (and it must be, since solar photvoltaic must be dismissed on this scale), then this remark is inexplicable. The amount of energy which the fourth nuclear power plant at Longmen is designed to generate is approximately 19 TW hours per year. Five times that value would be 95 TW hours per year. With an area of 200 square kilometres, 1,800 of the very largest onshore wind turbines in production today could be built. Under the generous assumption that these turbines would operate at an average 30% efficiency, a farm comprising 1,800 of them could generate a maximum of just over 33 TW hours of energy per year. That's not even twice the magnitude of the energy which the fourth nuclear plant would generate.

Dang's statement is either evidence of his own innumeracy or a deliberate attempt to mislead. Whichever it is, perhaps it is not too far beneath a former high-ranking public servant such as Dang to publicly apologize for his grossly misleading statement in your pages at the earliest opportunity.

Yours freely
Michael Fagan.

(Sent: Tuesday April 12th 2011. Unpublished by the Taipei Times.)


  1. Assuming your numbers are accurate, then it seems Dang's primary mistake was in assuming that each turbine would be operating at near 100% capacity.

  2. If Dang was in error (and how do you get to be an EPA minister if you are not even familiar with these sort of elementary, back-of-an-envelope calculations?*), then yes, an assumption of 100% efficiency per turbine at 1,800 7 MW turbines would yield 110 TW hours a year.

    *I would bet at least half of the till-girls at any 7-11 up and down the country could get this right. Yet a former EPA minister apparently cannot.


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