Sat, May 03, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Plant conversion a viable option

By James Kuo 郭國榮

A liquid natural gas terminal could be built at Datan. In addition to providing gas directly to the Datan plant, it could also provide for northern Taiwan and in the future supply natural gas to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant were it to be modified for natural gas power generation.

Since 2009, the cost in the US of shale natural gas has dropped from NT$3.73 per cubic meter. The US government has allowed exports of natural gas to Asian and European countries with which the US does not have free-trade agreements.

Also, many Japanese power companies, for example Osaka Electric Power Co, are now importing natural gas directly from the US. Taipower should import gas by itself rather than go through state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC), where it is exploited at every turn. This would lower the current CPC price of NT$19 per cubic meter.

Until it is possible to generate large volumes of electricity through renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, consideration should also be given to turning the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant into a natural gas plant.

Between 1985 and 1990, I was involved in American Electric Power’s conversion of the 97-percent-completed Zimmer nuclear power plant into a coal-fired facility. I was also involved in the conversion of the 85-percent-completed Midland nuclear power plant into a CCGT power plant by adding a gas turbine heat recovery steam generator cycle and a generator using the original nuclear power plant’s steam turbine cycle, a condenser and power transmission equipment. Given the scale of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, my estimate is that it could be converted to a CCGT facility with a further investment of NT$65 billion (US$2.2 billion) over five years.

During their time at university, my three children participated in the International Youth Culture and Study Tour organized by Lin I-hsiung’s Chilin Foundation (慈林基金會). When I told them a few days ago of the sacrifices and contributions Lin was making to protect the nation, they said: “Dad, you should do something.” That is why I decided to share this information with my Taiwanese friends and relatives.

James Kuo is a former principal structural engineer at American Electric Power.

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