It would cost at least NT$1.12 trillion (US$40.5 billion) to make the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) operational, much more than it would cost to suspend construction now, the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance said yesterday.
The civic group said that while Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) has “threatened” the public by saying that electricity prices would rise sharply if nuclear power is abandoned — promoting the misconception that the nation must choose between tolerating potential risks to public safety or expensive electricity — other energy options exist.
In a 30-page report detailing the “real” cost of finishing the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and the viability of alternatives to nuclear power, the group said it used data gathered from Taipower reports and from other countries that use nuclear energy to calculate the cost of operating the plant and debunk the lies told by the government.
Alliance chairperson Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑) said that while aborting construction of the plant may cost about NT$10 billion in penalties for breach of contract, the cost of operating the plant for 40 years would amount to NT$1.1256 trillion — excluding the cost of compensation and reconstruction if a nuclear disaster were to occur.
The group arrived at the figure by adding up the cost of implementing precautionary earthquake measures (NT$10.2 billion), additional construction (NT$46.2 billion), nuclear fuel (NT$380 billion), operation and maintenance (NT$380 billion), plant decommissioning (NT$186 billion), high-level nuclear waste disposal (NT$110 billion) and low-level nuclear waste disposal (NT$13.2 billion).
The reason why Taipower tells the public that electricity use would be restricted if nuclear energy is abandoned is because it has always overestimated the growth of electricity demand, alliance board member Chao Chia-wei (趙家緯) said.
He said that the state-run company had estimated that demand for electricity would increase 48 percent from 2010 to 2025.
“However, statistics on the past 10 years show that electricity demand has grown by just 30 percent,” he said. “In addition, given that economic growth was less than 2 percent during the same time period, the nation should reconsider its industrial structure to encourage higher energy efficiency.”
“The public has caved to the threats of skyrocketing electricity prices before, but we hope everyone can break away from this binary opposition and find a new model for economic development,” Lai said.
The group suggested that the government follow the policy of several European countries and aim for zero growth in electricity demand by adjusting industrial structures, improving energy efficiency and developing sustainable energy.
It added that using the NT$1.1256 trillion that would be spent operating the plant to develop “green” energy would generate about 5.3 times more electricity than would be provided by the plant and also create at least 40,000 jobs.
When asked if electricity prices would be much higher if the building of the plant is aborted, Chao said that calculations based on Taipower’s statistics show that prices would increase by just 0.4 percent, which would translate into about NT$4 or NT$5 a month per household.