Sat, Feb 02, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Taipower rules out activation of Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in face of shortages

Staff writer, with CNA

State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) yesterday ruled out activating the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, dismissing the misconception that doing so would take only three years.

It would take at least six to seven years to start commercial operations at the plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮), the company said in a statement.

The plant has been mothballed since July 2015 amid opposition from environmental advocates over the potential dangers of nuclear power.

Citing a legislative resolution passed last year, Taipower said it is required to remove all fuel rods from the plant by the end of next year.

Taipower also pointed out some major problems if the plant were to be activated.

General Electric Co would not be able to replace the aging components of the advanced boiling water reactor, which was installed at the plant more than 20 years ago, as the company has ceased production of many of them, Taipower said.

The process to restore the plant would also be time-consuming, as it would involve reallocating budgets in the legislature, renewing an application to the Atomic Energy Council to end the suspension, and conducting follow-up tests and examinations, it said.

The statement came a day after the Ministry of Economic Affairs published a revised national energy policy, which states that the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Shihmen District (石門) would be decommissioned as scheduled, the service life of the second and third nuclear power plants would not be extended, and the fourth plant would not be restarted.

On Thursday, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told a news conference that “there will be no extension or restarting of nuclear power plants in Taiwan, due to subjective and objective conditions, as well as strong public objection.”

However, in line with the results of a referendum on Nov. 24 last year, thermal power generation would be reduced by 1 percent this year and next year, Shen said.

He warned that Taiwan could see electricity shortages from 2021 due to increasing demand, but did not elaborate on why the government’s energy mix remains unchanged, while assuring the public that a 15 percent power generation reserve requirement would be met.

According to previous projections by the ministry, the electricity supply by 2025 is to be composed of 20 percent green energy, 50 percent natural gas-powered generation and 30 percent coal-fired power.

The policy is an indication that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) plans to stick to its goal of making Taiwan a “nuclear-free homeland by 2025,” despite repeated calls to restart the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and the results of the Nov. 24 referendums.

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