Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - Page 11 News List

More nuclear plants are needed, KMT official says

POWER Lai Shyh-bao said that Taiwan should consider ending its current `nuclear-free homeland policy, ' but the Minister of Economic Affairs had little to say about it


Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) declined to respond positively yesterday to an opposition lawmaker's suggestion that the country build more nuclear power plants to help increase the proportion of nuclear power.

Opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) suggested during a session at the Legislative Yuan that the Ministry of Economic Affairs accelerate construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant at a time of skyrocketing international oil prices and growing world pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Lai asked the economics minister to rethink the country's energy policy, saying that the cost of thermal power -- using oil or coal as fuel -- is about two to three times higher than that of nuclear power.

In addition, Lai said, if Taiwan's industrial structure and methods of generating power remained unchanged, the volume of the country's carbon dioxide emissions would increase by an average of 170,000 tonnes per year, making Taiwan an obvious target in the global campaign to control greenhouse gases emissions, resulting from fossil fuel use.

Against this backdrop, Lai said, Taiwan should seriously consider shelving its current "nuclear-free homeland policy, " under which no more nuclear power plants would be built and construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was suspended at one point.

Even if the government does not build a fifth or a sixth nuclear power plant, Lai said, it should at least speed up construction of the fourth and install more power generators at the plant to help increase the proportion of nuclear-powered electricity available in the country.

For his part, Chen said that promoting alternative energies and efforts to conserve energy have been the core policies of the Economics Ministry, adding that whether more nuclear power plants should be built is a decision that requires further consideration and a broad social consensus.

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