Tue, Mar 22, 2011 - Page 2 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Environmental vigor hits a high: Pan

REDUCE:The Green Party official said the government could facilitate a decrease in industrial energy demand with market mechanisms that would boost power costs

Staff Writer, with CNA

A prominent activist said yesterday the momentum of the environmental movement in Taiwan has reached a new high.

“We have finally arrived at the watershed moment where the fairy tale of nuclear safety is being seriously challenged,” Green Party Taiwan spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said.

The 41-year-old has participated in hundreds of peaceful demonstrations throughout his career, calling on grassroot movements to tackle issues ranging from blocking local petrochemical development to promoting wetlands conservation.

For the past five years, Pan has served as a leading figure of the nation’s only internationally affiliated political party, representing the Green Party Taiwan three times in legislative and city council races. The party has 300 registered members and often advocates for social causes.

The party has not been able to gain a foothold in any government body because it usually gets drowned out by heavy campaigning from the major political parties. However, its positions are considered an alternative viewpoint on public issues.

At a demonstration in front of the Executive Yuan on Thursday, Pan urged the government to focus on creating more renewable energy generation instead of relying on nuclear power, pointing out that the scope of the crisis in Japan offered Taiwanese an opportunity to rethink the consequences of Taiwan’s reliance on nuclear power.

Pan also thinks the government needs to take a more practical approach to its energy policy. He said industrial power consumption in Taiwan accounts for 80 percent of total electricity usage. The nation should reduce the scale of four of its most energy-intensive industries: paper-making, cement, steel and petrochemicals, Pan said.

“Taiwan needs a fundamental change in its industrial structure by shifting away from traditional labor-intensive economy toward one that pursues quality and skill,” he said.

The Bureau of Energy said the nation consumed 27.4 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity last year, with nuclear power providing 16 percent of that number.

“I don’t see why we cannot reduce that proportion of [nuclear] supply by providing better incentives and management,” he said.

An efficient way to cut back industrial demand for electricity, Pan said, would be to expose industries to the real cost of electricity by using market incentives.

“Simply put, electricity in Taiwan is too cheap,” he said.

Pan said the government should limit the industrial use of power by levying a tax on electricity.

Data from the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) from last year showed the average price of electricity for industry was NT$2.35 per kWh, which was the fifth-lowest among 30 members and observers of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

As for electricity management, Pan said that in order to reduce waste, Taipower must practice better load balancing — the practice of storing excess electrical power during periods of low demand that are released when demand rises.

By using modern electrical network technology, such as a smart grid which uses digital technology to manage the transport of electricity from its source to its users as demand fluctuates, Taiwan could raise the efficiency of its power usage by 4 percent and reduce power consumption to less than last year’s level by 2025.

Pan also asked the public to think critically about the issue of nuclear power and not just fall squarely on pro or anti-nuclear sides. He said that political parties would often push stereotypical positions for their own political interests.

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