The "2-year Solar Power Promotion Plan" approved by the Executive Yuan in 2016 and submitted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) aims at promoting the rooftop and ground-mounted photovoltaics power projects. "Ground-mounted" projects apply to salt industry land, severe land subsidence areas, water space, closed landfill sites and contaminated land, and so on. The MOEA plans to achieve the targets of 910 MW for the rooftop type and 610 MW for the ground-mounted type within the period from July 2016 to June 2018, totaling 1,520 MW for the whole photovoltaics power projects.

To accomplish the above-mentioned goals, the government plans to actively promote the development of ground-mounted solar power projects. However, the ground-mounted photovoltaics projects currently require 1 to 1.5 acres of land for generating 1MW on average. According to the Regulations Governing the Restrictions on Use of Non-urban Land, where the land used for development of photovoltaics power projects is larger than 2 acres, the land use control zoning thereof should be changed to "for designated purpose". In principle, the review of change regarding the use control zoning takes about 1 year, which has a significant impact on the development timeframe and progress of the ground-mounted photovoltaics projects.

In response to the Rules Governing the Review of Land Development for Photovoltaics Projects, on March 9, 2017, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) promulgated the amended "Operational Procedures for Review of Non-urban Land Development" ("Operational Procedures"), adding the 14th Section ("Section"), to regulate the review procedures for photovoltaics projects. A summary of the amended Section is as follows:

Exemptions of partial provisions in the General Section of the Operational Procedures ("General Section") (Point 2 of the Section)

The installation of photovoltaics power generators, booster stations,substations, and convertor equipment, etc. shall be governed by the Section and the General Section, except for the following Points of the General Section: Point 14 (regulations for complete connection of base land shape), Point 17 (standards of base land expropriation for necessary reservation areas), Point 28 (public transportation services or facilities), Point 35 (regulations for building layout/aggregation), Point 39 (relevant regulations for natural landscape combination), Point 42 (principles of afforestation plans), and Point 43 (planting rules). Furthermore, the land which high-voltage transmission lines pass by is exempted from the restrictions regarding planned parks, green space, or parking lots prescribed under Point 29 of the General Section.

2.Regulations regarding special review of photovoltaics facilities (Points 3 to 7 of the Section)

With regard to the review of photovoltaics facilities, the Section sets out special rules for landscape maintenance, drainage planning, land use restrictions, traffic maintenance, and wastewater treatment, etc.

3.Simplify the requirement on planning drawing (Point 8 of the Section)

The applicant may submit the planning on base land topographic survey and geologic section (drilling analysis) of photovoltaics facilities in accordance with the rules of simplified requirements on planning drawing.

4.Other relevant facilities (Point 1 of the Section)

If the total area of the necessary service facilities, public facilities, management facilities, or other land of building facilities, other than the photovoltaics facilities, is below 2 acres and less than 10% of the base land area, the Section shall apply; if the total area exceeds the above standard, only Points 3 to 7 of the Section shall apply, excluding Points 2 and 8 of the Section.

The new amended Section will be the legal basis for change of land use in connection with developing photovoltaics special area of more than 2 acres on non-urban land nationwide. The Section not only clarifies the relevant rules of review but also is expected to facilitate the speed of review regarding change of land use for photovoltaics facilities, reducing the timeframe of review to 3 to 6 months. For the time being, the MOI has planned to develop ground-mounted photovoltaics special areas on the chosen public salt industry land of approximately 803 acres in Chiayi County and Tainan City. Given the above, the problem of the shortage of land supply for the development of large-scaled photovoltaics facilities may be improved in the future.