The potential cost of halting construction of the fourth nuclear power plant in Kungliao may be extremely high for Taiwanese industry, an official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (
But on the upside, the official said, further liberalization of the power generation market would stem an expected shortfall in supply.
Chen Chao-yih (
"The only way to make up the power shortfall is to further open the power generation market to private companies in the northern part of the country," Chen said.
But, Chen warned, steering away from nuclear power could prove costly. "Building and operating power plants fired by natural gas cost around twice as much as those powered by coal or nuclear fission," he said.
Taiwan already suffers a serious power supply problem, and the Legislative Yuan (
"If we can't provide a stable flow of power to industries, then investors will look elsewhere to put their money, the stock market will falter and the economy will generally weaken," Chen said.
Chen made the remarks yesterday in response to a proposal by Economics Minister-designate Lin Hsin-yi that the construction of the fourth power plant be temporarily halted.
But while the economics ministry bemoaned the costs of the suspension, deputy director of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (
"I think we should reconsider whether we need more energy-intensive industries," Hsu said. "Energy-intensive industries use one-third of the total energy. Cement, steel, petrochemical and paper pulp industries generate less than 7 percent of GDP but use up one-third of the total power," she said.
Hsu also said that by ditching the nuclear plant, billions could be saved on construction alone.
"The final cost of the first three nuclear power plants cost 2.6 to 2.8 times the initial estimate," Hsu said. "The planned cost for building the fourth nuclear power plant is NT$170 billion, but based on past experience it will eventually cost NT$500 billion."
But Taiwan Power officials have raised concerns about the high cost of compensating firms contracted to build the plant if the project is halted.
The US' General Electric Company was awarded a US$1.8 billion contract to supply two reactors while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan won a US$127.8 million contract to build turbine generators.
Chen said the economics ministry was already formulating alternative plans in case the fourth plant doesn't go forward, adding that the plan be ready by the middle of this month.
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