Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Energy-saving measures needed

By Tsai Hui-sun 蔡卉荀 and Lee Ken-cheng 李根政

The Executive Yuan has claimed that rebuilding the coal-fired Shenao Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳) is necessary to prevent a potential power shortage in northern Taiwan and reduce the power transmitted from plants in central and southern Taiwan.

Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) used an analogy to ask the public to choose between a bucket of coal and a cylinder of gas, while Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the nation could hold a referendum on whether the public wants the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in the city’s Gongliao District (貢寮) or the Shenao plant.

These ridiculous remarks by government officials fully expose their poor understanding of the prospects of the nation’s energy stability. By forcing a choice between coal or nuclear energy, the government is asking the public to choose between two bad alternatives.

On April 26, the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee held a public hearing on amending the Energy Administration Act (能源管理法) and the necessity of building the Shenao plant. The following day, the Bureau of Energy was deciding which companies are to develop offshore wind farms.

This shows that as Taiwan faces the diverse challenges of energy transformation, the reduction of coal usage and the development of renewable energy sources are important issues.

Regrettably, the issue of energy saving — which is of equal importance — is being overlooked.

Last year, the Cabinet addressed five industrial problems, one being high demand for electricity. Despite this, it found that even without the Shenao plant, the nation’s operating electricity reserve margin would still be 14.9 percent by 2025.

With the development of renewable energy sources, the operating electricity reserve margin will increase. In other words, the Shenao plant is not needed, and the talk about the need to balance the energy supply between different regions of the nation is an attempt to cover up a faulty policy.

If the Cabinet really wants to reduce energy transmission from southern to northern Taiwan to achieve a regional energy balance, it should instead unite all local governments in the north in promotion of energy savings and urban power generation, and reduce electricity consumption and increase the rate of energy self-sufficiency in that region.

In Seoul, a city of 10 million with an energy supply-demand structure similar to Taipei’s, 98 percent of electricity is transmitted by ultra-high-voltage towers from remote villages, causing problems for people living around power plants and near the transmission lines.

Upon taking office in 2012, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon launched an initiative vigorously promoting energy savings and energy efficiency, improving building energy consumption, reducing energy waste, developing urban power generation, building zero net-energy-consuming communities, increasing the energy self-sufficiency rate and cutting down reliance on energy transmissions from outside the city.

The following year, Seoul’s annual energy consumption decreased by 1.4 percent and the energy self-sufficiency rate increased from 2.8 percent to 5 percent. Within a year-and-a-half of launching the initiative, the city’s energy consumption had decreased by 2.04 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE), equal to the yearly amount of electricity generated by the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門).

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