The nation is likely to experience a tight power supply this month, as a routine maintenance project at the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County is scheduled to start today, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Maintenance at the plant is expected to reduce the nation’s power supply by 958,000 kilowatt-hours, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told reporters at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee.
To ensure a stable power supply, the supply gap is to be filled by state-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower, 台電) three coal-fired plants, Shen said, referring to Taichung Power Plant, the Hsieh-ho (協和) plant and the Sinda (興達) plant.
The three coal-fired plants, which just went through regular maintenance, are expected to generate 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity over the period when the Ma-anshan plant is closed for maintenance, the ministry said.
Shen’s remarks came after the No. 2 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) shut down unexpectedly on Wednesday last week, which sparked concerns about possible power shortages.
The nation’s power supply is expected to indicate “orange” for the whole of this month, with an operating reserve margin from 5.2 percent to 5.53 percent, Taipower’s Web site showed.
The state-run utility uses a five-color warning system to indicate the stability of the nation’s power supply. “Green” indicates operating reserve margins of more than 10 percent; “yellow” represents power reserves of between 6 and 10 percent; and “orange” signals reserves of less than 6 percent.
A “red” alert means that power reserves have dropped below 900,000 kilowatts, while a “black” alert indicates that reserves have fallen to less than 500,000 kilowatts, making power rationing necessary.
The operating reserve margin covers the additional amount of power that can be drawn from operating power plants to meet demand in case a generator goes down.
“The maintenance project at the Ma-anshan plant is part of Taipower’s effort to prepare for summer, when electricity consumption is usually higher,” Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) said by telephone.
Taipower expects all the power generators to become operational on May 20 at the earliest, after the Ma-anshan plant resumes operations, Hsu told the Taipei Times.
Taipower has invited a group of foreign nuclear energy experts to investigate the incident at the Guosheng plant, Hsu added, but declined to provide a timetable.
An initial investigation showed that the tripping of the generator was triggered by a pressure anomaly in the reactor’s steam valve, Taipower said.
The utility needs to obtain approval from the Atomic Energy Council before restarting the reactor.
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