Tue, May 09, 2000 - Page 8 News List

Nuclear power a waste of energy

By Wang Jung-der

Following Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) election, many people are anxiously hoping that he will fulfill his campaign promise to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四).

Many people are worry about possible power shortages if the plant is not built. However, alternatives to the construction of an additional nuclear plant definitely exist.

The installment of new power generators and an increase in the output efficiency of fossil-fuel generators should be sufficient to produce additional power that exceeds the volume of power produced by another nuclear power plant.

The estimated volume of power produced by the new nuclear power plant is 2.7 million kilowatts. Currently, Taipower has at least 27 fossil-fuel generators, with a total power output of 11.9 million kilowatts. The output efficiency of these traditional generators is low. They are capable of transforming into electricity 30 to 34 calories out of every 100 calories. If Taipower replaces them with more efficient combined-cycle generators, the overall output efficiency would increase by 30 to 40 percent.

In other words, the power production would increase by 3.57 million to 4.76 million kw, without any increase in pollution level or carbon dioxide exhaust. This increase far exceeds the electricity output of the Fourth Nuclear Plant.

In 1995, Taipower chose the less efficient single-cycle generators over the highly efficient combined-cycle generators for its new power plant. The incident tells us that Taipower is not enthusiastic about increasing output efficiency. It has made up its mind to build additional nuclear plants.

As a further example, Formosa Plastics (台塑) constructed seven electricity generators in after the Ministry of Economic Affairs lifted the ban on private construction of power plants. The total electricity output of these generators, 4.2 million kw, far exceeds the output capacity of a nuclear plant.

Therefore, we can say with confidence that we do not need to construct more nuclear plants, if we raise efficiency in electricity production, distribution, transmission, and consumption; liberalize the power industry; and halt the construction of energy-intensive and pollution-intensive petrochemical, cement and steel plants.

Under the circumstances, why do people continue to worry about power shortages?

1. Taipower threatens the public with power rationing. People are misled into believing that there will be shortages without the construction of another nuclear plant.

2. Taipower spends the taxpayers' money on a public relations campaign to lobby public support for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The team has resorted to using many troubling strategies For example, the team has repeatedly told the public there are ways to deal with nuclear active waste, when in fact no solution has been found anywhere in the world to deal with such waste.

Taipower has already begun lobbying decision makers in Chen's new administration and DPP legislators.

3. In the past, Taipower monopolized the power industry under the protection of the government. Although private construction of power generators is now permissible, private sale of power is still banned. As a result, people have to rely completely on Taipower. No wonder the company can act as it pleases.

Everyone is worried that an enormous amount of money would be wasted by halting the half-complete construction of fourth plant. Contracts allegedly valued between NT$40 billion to NT$80 billion are involved.

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