Fri, Oct 26, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Energy giants are generating noise

By Pan Han-chiang 潘翰疆

On Oct. 8, the Environmental Protection Administration’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee approved a plan submitted by CPC Corp, Taiwan to build the nation’s third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Taoyuan’s Guantang Industrial Park (觀塘工業區). In the same week, the Ministry of Economic Affairs halted construction by Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) of a new Shenao (深澳) Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), while a proposal for a pro-nuclear referendum failed to get enough signatures to go ahead.

These developments are connected to a key factor in the process of energy transition, namely how to gradually move away from coal-fired and nuclear power generation using LNG as a transitional fuel.

However, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is opposed to nuclear power, has lost the confidence of the environmental protection groups that are also against nuclear power.

If the confusion continues and the proponents of the referendum relaunch it next year, it might give nuclear power a chance to make a comeback.

Following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia, global nuclear installed generation capacity leveled out, and since the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident, less generation capacity has been added than has been decommissioned. Nuclear power is on the way out. What was already a sunset industry is fading into the night.

The past three or four years have also seen climate change enter the international political agenda and groups with an interest in nuclear power are using this issue to trumpet the absurd idea of using nuclear power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The real global trend is to cut carbon dioxide emissions without using nuclear power, and of course Taiwan can do the same by speeding up its adoption of energy-saving measures and its development of green industries, while using LNG as an alternative fuel during the transitional period.

However, nuclear interest groups are trying to go against this worldwide trend by denigrating green energy, resisting energy transition and obstructing the competitiveness of industries involved in transitioning toward a circular economy.

After the Shenao plant’s environmental impact assessment was approved this year, the Cabinet and some legislators upset environmental groups by talking about which was worse between nuclear and coal-fired power. This motivated the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to launch a referendum campaign designed to take advantage of the issue to influence the outcome of the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections.

Now that the CPC plan has been approved, some people say they are so angry that they can no longer bring themselves to vote for the DPP.

Some pundits say that as soon as there is a power shortage, the idea of a nuclear-free homeland will crumble.

This idea implies that environmentalists are fundamentalists who do not want any kind of electricity, a wedge issue to widen splits in the anti-nuclear camp and help the pro-nuclear lobby to sow discord.

These issues have added uncertainties to next month’s elections.

The DPP’s bogus panic about “electricity shortages” arises from the pro-nuclear lobby’s successful decades-long campaign to brainwash society. Adrift in a fog of confusion about power supplies, the DPP is being led by the nose by the two energy giants — Taipower and CPC.

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