Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Minister leaves leeway on nuclear policy after talks

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) yesterday left some leeway on the government’s policy to phase out nuclear power by 2025 following a meeting with seven of the nation’s biggest trade groups.

Industry representatives have voiced concerns about possible energy shortages and businesses’ ability to absorb anticipated energy price hikes that could arise from the government’s planned energy mix, which would rely heavily on natural gas to meet half of total consumption with another 20 percent to be furnished by the nascent renewable energy industry, while the share of coal-fired power generation would be reduced on an annual basis.

The government would take all factors into consideration, Shen said in response to General Chamber of Commerce (全國商業總會) chairman Lai Cheng-i’s (賴正鎰) suggestion that the government keep nuclear power generation in reserve.

The ministry last month said that legal and technical hurdles, and resistance from local governments, have all but made it impossible to activate the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) or delay the scheduled decommissioning of other nuclear power plants.

“It is not that the government has ruled out nuclear power, but the obstacles are insurmountable,” Shen later said in a statement.

Lai also voiced concerns about possible geopolitical events that could disrupt Taiwan’s natural gas supply.

Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會) chairman Lin Por-fong (林伯豐) expressed disappointment over the government’s inability to carry out last year’s referendum results to scrap the 2025 deadline to phase out nuclear power.

The government’s energy strategy would support local industries while maintaining a reserve power generation margin of 10 percent, Shen said, adding that energy prices would rise at a manageable rate in the absence of nuclear energy.

The government would expand pumped-storage hydroelectricity capacity to address the intermittent and unreliable nature of alternative energy sources, and build infrastructure to ensure that gas-fired power plants have stable fuel supplies, Shen said.

In related news, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) yesterday declined a request by the central government to delay the retirement of an old coal-fired unit at the Taichung Power Plant, and instead decided to keep up to two of its 10 units offline during months with peak air pollution.

The old unit must be permanently retired to achieve the city’s emissions reduction goals, Lu said, adding that the capacity shortfall can be made up by making adjustments at other coal-fired power plants in New Taipei City and Kaohsiung.

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