Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Some thoughts on nuclear energy

By Tsong Tien-tzou 鄭天佐 and Wang Chiu-sen 王秋森and Yang Shin-nan 楊信男

We support resolving the dispute over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant through a referen-dum. We also suggest that the government invite both the pro- and anti-nuclear camps to provide information -- presented to the people by the referendum organizer in an impartial and objective way -- so they can make a well-informed decision. The members of the Green Water Society would like to provide you with our conclusions of years of study.

First, Taiwan is a densely-populated country with insufficient natural resources, so the government should guide the people to conserve power and natural resources. For example, we can avoid possible overload during peak hours by adjusting the time periods of electricity use, or save electricity by improving the efficiency of our machines. We can also save natural resources while maintaining our living quality by replacing "one-time-use" products with refined and durable goods.

For the sake of sustainable development, environmental protection and economic development are equally important. It's necessary to maintain a balance between the two aspects.

Second, Taiwan can learn from other medium-sized countries -- such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Economically, its industries should be trans-formed into low pollution, high-added-value "intelligent indus-tries" in an effort to raise energy productivity. We should also replace today's high-consumption lifestyle with a more frugal one in accordance with the principle of environmental protection.

Third, the government should search for alternative energy sources. Thermal power generation by coal, fuel oil or natural gas will generate a great amount of carbon dioxide, causing global warming. Although wind and solar-power generation is already providing some electricity in a few countries, it's still necessary to develop higher generating efficiency in order to reduce the costs and boost competitiveness. These two methods are therefore unlikely to become mainstream energy sources anytime soon.

The future of hydrogen power generation seems bright at pre-sent. But scientists worry that the inevitable 10 percent to 20 percent hydrogen leak may damage the ozone layer. Besides, it takes other energy sources to generate hydrogen power. As for other "green energy" sources, they are still at the research and development stage. The government should therefore boost the amount of money it spends on research in this field.

Fourth, nuclear power is relatively advantageous because it does not generate carbon dioxide or cause global warming. Nuclear fuel can also be reused after processing. Since the safety of nuclear power plants has greatly im-proved, nuclear power has become the major energy source in France, Switzerland, Japan and some other advanced countries.

Before more appropriate treatment of nuclear waste is found, Taiwan's ideal choice of becoming a nuclear-free country is correct. Nevertheless, to reduce the economic impact of discarding nuclear power, we should first draw up a blueprint and gradually lower our dependence on nuclear power.

Fifth, half of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has been completed. In view of the nation's economy, policy continuity and international reputation, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of scrapping the pro-ject right now. In addition, thanks to advanced technologies adopted by the construction project, the safety of the plant is better than that of the three existing plants and its nuclear waste will be highly condensed.

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