Linbien Township is a small municipal jurisdiction in Pingtung County and in many ways representative of Pingtung County as a whole. The community is rural in nature with aquaculture and agriculture as its primary industries. The signature crop in Linbien is the wax apple, in which the local citizens take great pride. At the same time, the wax apple is representative of all the things destroyed with Typhoon Morakot and rebuilt by the town in the years after.
Linbien Township, led by Chief Xin-Zeng Zheng, is the center of gravity for renewable energy technology activity in Pingtung County and the primary location of focus for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team working within Pingtung County.
Linbien Township is a coastal town on the west coast of Taiwan framed by the Taiwan Strait and the Linbien river along with many other streams and water sources inland from the sea. There are more than 300 hectares of fish farms here, all small ponds full of water and in need of electricity to aerate the ponds.
Much of the Township consists of low lying lands below sea level. These geographic characteristics present very practical challenges for the town like the need to have fully operational pumping stations which pump the constant flow of ground water out of the town and to the river or sea. Pumps like this require 24/7 electricity for the pumps as well as expensive back up power. The geography also requires a strong and sturdy dike system as well as the careful location of key infrastructure and services to keep the town protected from catastrophes. In many ways, Linbien has the same geographic challenges as New Orleans in the United States when it comes to hurricane protection.
Linbien Chief Zheng at the Linbien Pumping Station
The team on the dike between the pumping station and the Linbien River
Pingtung County has a number of renewable energy efforts underway today and many of those are taking place in Linbien Township. From photovoltaic farms to hydrogen fuel cell exploration, the county and its committed ecosystem of integrators are investing and working hard to get their program to scale.
One way Pingtung County plans to test and operationalize their renewable efforts in an integrated way is through a Microgrid demonstration site in Linbien. They will use several government facilities coupled with rail lines and other infrastructure to make this happen. The main government facilities will be schools like the Pingtung County Linbien Junior High School and the new Pingtung County Town Hall pictured below.
The IBM analysis and set of recommendations will focus on a review of the current Pingtung Microgrid plan, feedback on technologies and areas of improvement and a roadmap for the future.