The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday defended a controversial plan to build a coal-fired power plant in New Taipei City, saying that an imbalance in the nation’s regional power supply needs to be resolved.
State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) wants to build a coal-fired plant on the site of the old Shenao Power Plant (深澳電廠), which was near Rueifang District’s (瑞芳) Shenao Harbor (深澳灣) and was demolished in 2011.
It is necessary to construct the facility, as the risk of an unstable electricity supply would increase if the power shortage in northern Taiwan remains unresolved, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told a news conference in Taipei.
On average, the power plants in southern Taiwan supply about 13.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to the north per year, representing about 15 percent of northern Taiwan’s total power consumption, according to ministry data.
“All methods of producing electricity have some effect on the environment, but the government needs to mitigate those effects and ensure competitive utility rates,” Shen said.
However, he did not directly respond to questions about whether the ministry plans to raise electricity prices for industries to decrease energy consumption.
Shen’s remarks came after the Shenao project provoked heated criticism over worsening air quality in northern Taiwan, with some environmental groups saying that Taipower’s coal-fired generators would generate more carbon emissions than a natural gas-fired power plant.
As part of its nuclear-free homeland policy, the government has set a target of raising the contribution of renewable energy to 20 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, increase gas-fired power to half and reduce coal-fired power to 30 percent by 2025.
“A coal-fired plant [in Shenao] is still the best option,” Taipower chairman Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) told reporters, adding that building a natural gas plant is not feasible, given limited hinterland.
In addition, the development of renewable energy sources would not be able to ease the electricity shortage in northern Taiwan by 2025, as the offshore wind farms in Taoyuan and Hsinchu are expected to produce less than 800 megawatts of electricity per year, the ministry said.
The ministry is trying to exploit geothermal energy sources, but the technologies used to explore deep geothermal energy has yet to reach commercial production capability, Bureau of Energy Director-General Lin Chuan-neng (林全能) said.
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