You might wonder what the differences are between green economy and traditional economy, a lot of people wonder this as well. It is still developing, I would say. For example, some experts argue that renewable energy companies should not enjoy subsidy from governments, they should prove themselves in the market. I am afraid the answer is not a yes or no, it is a yes and no.
The reason why I say this, is because this relates to how we see green economy. To start with, I would say people who believe this is a straight yes or no question, they have a blind spot. I understand people who believe free market economy, they would say government should not interfere in business activity in any way, market is the king. If this holds true, the cost of renewable energy is not competitive enough against nuclear power and coal, which means that green energy can’t survive in the market. In that way, we should continue to build more fossil fuel power stations if we value cost so much, right? However, is that what we really want?
When I travel to countries like Japan or Korea, I found their governments are determined to find solutions to build green economy, they do not waste time to debate controversy. Of course, dispute of government’s role in the market never cease to exist. And sometimes, dysfunction we saw in government can worsen the situation. Fortunately, the issue of climate change force governments to take actions, and we have seen great progress on green energy industry development. It provides an opportunity for all human beings to learn to build healthy relationships with the environment, and at the same time, to develop a sustainable economy, a win-win situation.
Green energy can contribute not only the low-carbon energy, and less impact to the environment. We all share the benefit from protecting the environment. Since we have rights to enjoy fresh air, we should pay for positive environmental impact. Collectively, we elect the government to do all things that involve public interests on our behalf.
Green energy is only one part of the puzzle. If we look at the whole picture, energy saving, storage, management, are also equally important, which governments should incubate and make plans as a whole.
Smart energy management can contribute to energy saving, take energy storage for example, during off-peak hours, energy can be stored in storage system, and sell back to power stations at a higher price during peak hours. Power stations are willing to pay premium price to buy back from those sellers, as those seller share its loading during peak hours.
As such, governments have every reason to support the development of energy storage industry, in addition to that, to redesign reasonable electricity price system, to amend The Renewable Energy Development Act, are also priorities.
There is an evident blind spot when everyone only considers price and profit in terms of business decisions. We will be taken away from what we really want. People always say that green products or green energy are too expensive to afford, however, it is that premium stand out the contribution to the environment.
In a society that only value price, it is very reasonable that green products and green energy are not desirable in the market. We should not expect things happen in Germany will happen here in Taiwan, after all, Taiwan has different economic, social, and political conditions. Ideal like Germany can only happen when the government has good will and long-term thinking.
If we examine the roadmap of countries development, it is crystal clear that governments always take the lead. It is because almost all green products/energy are not price competitive in initial stage, governments will incubate until it reaches its scalability, for example to make the cost of green energy cheaper than fossil energy. It then transform landscape of traditional industries.
What we learned from Germany is that the government is responsible for shaping the direction of green economy. However, it is also challenging to make economic growth environmentally sustainable. Still, new models like energy service company(ESCO) and sharing economy shed light on some possibilities. Environmental law obligators, green entrepreneurs, financial firms and the government are participants to forge this movement. There is a saying on the market used properly to describe this novel business model, “Wool is on the dog, the pig pays”, I think this is one interesting trend we should not overlook.
The past six years when I was promoting green trade, a lot of people asked me, “why green business model or circular economy model cannot be prosperous in Taiwan?” The voice in my head says because people in Taiwan only care about economic growth. They do not understand how to realize the value of environment in the market. If majority of people do not understand it, all promising policies by government will be turned into ideology. A friend of mine, who is a professor from Beijing moved to the U.S recently, not for political asylum but because he is a climate refugee of his own country, where he is fed up with poor air quality. We surely have the rights to enjoy better lives. This can only be fulfilled when green economy is built, and we can value environmental benefits.