Taiwan will likely rely more heavily on nuclear energy in future as it is an “environmentally friendly option” and would help deliver President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) election promise to reduce carbon emission levels, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said yesterday at a press conference.
In view of the current energy crisis and global warming, energy conservation and carbon reduction would be top priorities in the new energy policy that the Cabinet has been formulating, AEC’s Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) said, adding: “As a carbon-free energy, we can expect Taiwan’s reliance on nuclear power to increase.”
However, Tsai also said the AEC would not be making executive decisions — such as the completion schedule for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the timeline for the energy switch, and the amount of nuclear usage — since those would be “decisions for the Cabinet.”
What the council could do is offer professional advice to the central government should it decide to evaluate the feasibilities of relying more on nuclear energy, Tsai said.
“The public needs to know that we are on their side … Like the Environmental Protection Administration and the Department of Health, the AEC exists to ensure the safety and well being of the public,” Tsai said.
“For example, if the Cabinet decides to run a new nuclear plant, our job would be to gate-keep and make sure that safe operations are followed,” he said.
Likewise, the push for more employment of nuclear power would come from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Tsai said.
However, “the AEC would participate in the new policy planning and make professional recommendations,” he said.
Asked if the council faced a talent shortage because the Democratic Progressive Party government had pushed unsuccessfully for a nuclear-free homeland in the past eight years, which practically made many of the AEC’s subdivisions dormant, Tsai said that although the average age of AEC staff was a little on the high side, it was not yet suffering from a lack of experienced personnel.