Firms express concerns over electricity supplies if nuclear power is scrapped

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 - Page 13

Amid rising calls for the scrapping the nation’s use of nuclear power, iron and steel product manufacturers have expressed concern over the effect such a move would have on the steady supply of electricity, which they said is crucial to their companies’ competitiveness.

Chairman of Taichung-based Feng Hsin Iron & Steel (豐興鋼鐵) Lin Ming-ju (林明儒) said despite concerns about safety at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), the scrapping of nuclear power and shifting to a reliance on renewable energy sources is not feasible, as the nation’s electricity supply would not be stable.

Company spokesman Lin Da-chun (林大鈞) said an unstable power supply would mean power disruptions and could cause halts to production. He said the company could ask for compensation from state-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台電), but he said what the company wants is a stable supply of electricity rather than compensation.

Lin said that geothermal and nuclear power are still the most stable sources of electricity at present.

Use of renewable energy sources would not provide a stable supply, he said.

In terms of electricity sales last year, Taipower provided the most electricity to the electronics industry, selling it 30.54 billion kilowatt-hours, or 21.95 percent of the electricity sold to all sectors.

The iron and steel industry came in second, purchasing 11.54 billion kilowatt-hours, or 8.3 percent of all electricity sold.

Huang Hsiao-hsin (黃孝信), secretary-general of the Taiwan Steel & Iron Industries Association (台灣鋼鐵工業同業公會), said that besides an unstable supply of electricity, steel product manufacturers are also worried about electricity rates going up, which they said would undermine their competitiveness.

However, Tung Ho Steel Enterprise Corp (東和鋼鐵) said it welcomed the current debate on nuclear power, and added that faced with a potentially unstable electricity supply and electricity price increases, the firm needs to plan how to reduce its electricity use and improve efficiency.

“Rather than worrying about insufficient power supplies in the future, it is better to start saving electricity,” a company spokesman said.