2007年4月10日 星期二

Taiwan Government Promotes Deep Ocean Water Industry

Taiwan Government Promotes Deep Ocean Water Industry

2007/03/12
Information from:
http://cens.com/cens/html/gb/news/news_inner_18650.html

Taiwan’s Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) has chosen Taitung County in the southeast as the site of the island’s first deep ocean water (DOW) pilot plant. This is the government’s first step in the promotion of this new industry, which is believed to have a potential production value of NT$80 billion (US$2.4 billion at NT$33:US$1).

DOW usually refers to water 200 meters below the surface of the sea, where it is clean, cool (under 10 degrees Celsius), has small molecules, and is rich in mineral content. It contains few germs, since sunshine cannot penetrate that deeply and photosynthesis is impossible; the small molecules make it easy for the human body to absorb; and the minerals it contains are healthy to humans. This makes the water so valuable that it is sometimes referred to as “blue gold.”

The pilot plant, which is to be built over four years at a cost of NT$380 million (US$11.5 million), will serve as an R&D and technology transfer center for DOW technology. In addition to the production of drinking water, this technology can also be used in a wide range of other applications including agricultural production, high-value-added algae cultivation, other aquaculture operations, horticulture, and health care.

The plant will be designed to tap water at a depth of 400 meters below the surface; this is one of the main reasons for the choice of Taitung, since the seas there drop to 600 meters less than two kilometers off the coast there. In addition, oceanic currents flow past, and the surrounding sea and land areas are free of pollution. These factors help make Taiwan one of the best places in the world for developing the DOW industry, along with South Korea, eastern Japan, and Hawaii.

The semi-governmental Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) will build the pilot plant on a 1.8-hectare plot at the Chihpen River estuary, and a pipeline, capable of drawing 10,000 metric tons of water a day, will be extended 2,500 meters into the sea within one year.

Rosy Predictions

The Water Resources Agency of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) predicts that Taiwan’s DOW industry will be worth more than NT$18.9 billion (US$576 million) next year, and that the figure will soar to NT$80 billion in three to five years.

A related plan, this one mapped out by the Taitung County Government, calls for the development of a “DOW industry park” adjacent to the pilot plant. The park will cover 32 hectares and will be built with hoped-for government subsidies amounting to NT$2.1 billion (US$63.6 million) and private investment worth NT$1.7 billion (US$51.5 million).

Several private enterprises are already scrambling to tap the huge DOW market potential. The Kuang Lung Group, for instance, has set up a company to produce bottled DOW; its products have won certification from the MOEA’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, and are already being tested in the market.

Kuang Lung’s plant in Hualien County has four pipelines that can draw in 24,000 metric tons of DOW per day. The firm is nearing agreement with several local drink bottlers about cooperation in the production of bottled DOW. These products are expected to hit the market by the end of March.

Another entrant into the line is the Lucky Cement Corp., which started to develop a DOW biotech park in Hualien two years ago at a projected cost of NT$5 billion (JS$151.5 million). It too has established a DOW company for the production of such products as bottled DOW, cosmetics, and facial masks, which will be placed on the market in the second quarter of this year. The company, which has obtained technological support from ITRI, also plans to use DOW for orchid cultivation,

Yet another DOW company has been set up in Hualien by the Taiwan Fertilizer Co. in cooperation with Yue’s Co., a major producer of bottled water. The new firm’s DOW bottled water is scheduled to be introduced to the market in May; soon, the bottled water will be followed by cosmetics and beer. Taiwan Fertilizer also plans to set up an oceanic biotech park in Hualien to serve as a holiday resort featuring DOW spas and other facilities.

Investors are optimistic about the future of the DOW industry in Taiwan. They point to its success in Japan, where it is firmly established and supplies a widespread range of applications such as bottled water, noodle-making, wine-making, aquaculture, and leisure recreation.

(by Philip Liu)

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