Sat, May 28, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Nuclear power rotation plan mulled

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

The Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant is pictured in New Taipei City’s Shimen District on March 7, 2014.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) yesterday said that it is planning to start a rotational operation scheme at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shimen District (石門) in November at the earliest in a bid to cope with the problem of decreasing storage space for nuclear waste.

“The plan is to operate the power plant from June to October and suspend operations during the rest of the year to decelerate the use of radioactive rods,” Taipower spokesman Hsiao Jin-yi (蕭金益) said by telephone.

Taipower will increase electricity generation at coal-fired and gas-powered plants when the Jinshan nuclear power plant is offline, Hsiao said.

When asked whether increasing the use of higher-cost coal and natural-gas resources would cause a hike in electricity prices, Hsiao said the effect on the prices would be “limited.”

Taipower estimates that reducing power generation at the nuclear power plant from November to May would account for less than 3 percent of the total annual power generation, so it would not affect electricity prices too much, he said.

The plan comes as the four pools for spent fuel rods at the Jinshan plant and the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) approach their capacities, Hsiao said.

A single pool can store a maximum of 3,083 used radioactive rods and the two pools at the Jinshan plant have 3,074 and 3,076 used nuclear rods respectively, according to Taipower.

The No. 2 reactor at the Jinshan plant, which is operational, should have its more than 100 used nuclear rods replaced between next month and July next year, the company said.

As a new dry-storage facility for used rods in New Taipei City is pending local government approval, if Taipower does not come up with a solution, the Jinshan plant might have to cease operations next year due to a lack of storage space for nuclear waste, said a Taipower official who declined to be named.

That means the Jinshan plant would be retired ahead of the planned decommissioning of its No. 1 reactor in December 2018 and No. 2 reactor in July 2019.

Taipower had allocated a budget and made a public call for bids to transport used nuclear fuel rods abroad, but the proposal was suspended due to protests.

Hsiao said the scheme could slow down the generation of nuclear waste, extending the operation of the power plant for another two years.

Taipower would carry out the plan once the Ministry of Economic Affairs approves it, he said.

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