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Mon, Nov 20, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Energy promises not kept

POWER POLICY Renewable energy was a key point in the DPP's election manifesto, but environmentalists say little action has been taken by the government or Taipower


A girl reads a brochure at an anti-nuclear rally in Taipei yesterday.


As the focus of media coverage has shifted from the scrapping of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) alleged extramarital affair, anti-nuclear activists have called upon the government to address fundamental energy issues.

Environmentalists have again called for the authorities to work towards fulfilling previous promises to to adjust energy policy in a bid to promote sources of renewable energy, including solar, wind, biomass energy and others.

"At the very least we would like to see Taipower draft schemes for promoting sources of renewable energy," Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑), secretary-general of the Green Citizens' Action Alliance (GCAA, 綠色公民行動聯盟), told the Taipei Times.

Environmentalists said that promoting renewable energy should not be just an election-time slogan engineered to attract the "green vote."

No change at Taipower

The DPP's victory in the presidential election may have given activists some optimism, strengthening commitment among anti-nuclear demonstrators who called for an end to construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Meanwhile, discussions at international conferences on promoting renewable energy has helped shape the vision local activists have of what the future of Taiwan's energy policy should be.

Environmentalists are expecting Taiwan's government to show some determination to adjust existing energy policy in line with modern thinking. The scenario within Taipower, however, is that nothing has changed.

According to confidential sources from the company, there is no sign that Taipower is planning to adopt renewable energy sources to make up for the deficiency of around 2500 megawatts that will be caused by the cancellation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Based on recent discussion between Taipower and the Energy Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, it is clear that decentralized small-scale power stations -- which are welcomed by developed countries -- are not being considered as alternatives to nuclear power.

"Taipower is considering allowing a few power plant builders to construct large-scale 1500 megawatt or 500 megawatt plants in northern Taiwan as alternatives," the source said.

In other words it would appear that all the innovative ideas proposed by energy experts and anti-nuclear activists from developed countries over the past few months have fallen on deaf ears. Neither Taipower nor the Energy Commission have taken such ideas seriously.

All talk and no action

Environmentalists are disappointed with the fact that no sign of energy policy change has been seen, even though the Energy Commission has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Danish Energy Agency last week. The memorandum is a basis for recommending technologies related to wind power and biomass energy developed in Denmark, a country that has devoted itself to the promotion of renewable energy.

Although Energy Commission officials claim that they have contacted other countries -- among them the US and the Netherlands -- to discuss future international cooperation in energy sector, there is no guarantee that Taiwan's power policy will be tailored around their models.

According to the Energy Commission, sources of renewable energy will account for only 3 percent of Taiwan's energy supply by the year 2020. The policy was announced by former premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) in 1998, based on conclusions made by the National Energy Conference (全國能源會議) held that same year.

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