Tue, Apr 23, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Misleading public on green power generation

By Pan Han-shen 潘翰聲

Energy consumption usually peaks at midday. Solar power provides about 1.8 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy, equivalent to the output of 1.8 nuclear power generators, and 5 to 6 percent of total energy generation, so it offsets a large portion of peak need.

During its three years in power, the Democratic Progressive Party has been removing systemic obstacles to green energy put in place by previous Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) governments, and green energy generation has quietly been growing.

Major amendments to the Renewable Energy Development Act (再生能源發展條例) were completed on April 12. Aside from simplifying procedures for removing systemic barriers, it also strengthens market mechanisms and encourages public participation through private electricity plants. As long as the government responsibly combines and consolidates green energy resources and precisely plots their distribution, it would be able to achieve its goal of having renewable resources comprise 20 percent of the nation’s energy by 2025.

Political disputes have led to a misconception about the importance of nuclear power plants, with 70 percent of respondents in a survey mistakenly thinking that they account for more than half of the nation’s power generation.

The fact is the combined installed capacity at the four generators at the Guosheng and Ma-anshan nuclear power plants is 38.72GWh, a mere 8.6 percent of the nation’s power generation. The Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant is currently entering the decommissioning process. The importance of nuclear generated power is diminishing, and with the decommissioning of the Ma-anshan plant in 2025, Taiwan will be free of nuclear power.

Ahead of the referendums last year, many voters were misled by nuclear power advocates and did not understand that 2025 is the legally defined deadline for decommissioning the old nuclear power plants. Instead, they thought the government would turn off all nuclear power plants immediately and that this would cause power shortages.

According to Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) plans, a few new power plants have come online over the past few years, while a few old coal-fired power plants have been decommissioned. Those who think a nuclear-free Taiwan would lack energy have misinterpreted the information.

If we take the peak hours operating reserve ratio published daily by Taipower as an indicator of the risk of a power shortfall, it would show that midday during working days in the summer presents the greatest concern. During off-peak times, the operating reserve ratio is above 20 percent most of the time and rises to 40 percent during the night. Electricity supply is not in any way stretched during the evening hours. Noon, when demand peaks, also happens to be the time when solar energy generation is at its highest.

These amendments deregulate government energy purchases and the green energy market, place increased liability on bulk users of energy and do away with guarantees that green energy has to be priced lower than fossil fuel energy supply, using market mechanisms to more efficiently allocate government expenditure for energy supply.

To achieve sustainable energy goals, we should undertake a comprehensive survey of green energy resources, including potential areas for deep strata geothermal exploitation and small hydraulic electro-generation, of which the technology is already quite advanced, as well as increasing exploitation of agricultural irrigation channels and harnessing ocean green energy sources, which could prove to be more efficient than solar power.

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