Sat, Mar 09, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear Power Debate: Researcher says nuclear power not only energy choice

By Hu Chien-sen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) and the government should not presume that nuclear power is the only energy choice, Academia Sinica researcher Yen Hung-yang (嚴宏洋) said yesterday, calling on the government to look into other options, otherwise it would be difficult for Taiwan to shoulder the consequences should anything untoward happen at any of the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Yen pointed to a decision by German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who is a physicist specializing in nuclear physics — to halve the use of nuclear power in Germany, adding that two months after the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster in Japan, Germany closed down eight of its 17 nuclear power plants.

Germany is highly industrialized, and it logically places an emphasis on the provision of sufficient energy to its citizens, Yen said, adding that Merkel had the guts to order an immediate halt to over half of the nation’s supply of nuclear energy because the German government had started investing in green energy over two decades ago.

Wind-power generators are almost ubiquitous in Germany, and most houses have solar panels on their roofs, Yen said, adding that the ratio of green energy output in Germany exceeded 20 percent of the entire national power grid.

Taiwan meets the prerequisites for generating green energy, and while it lacks the sheer land mass of Germany, southern Taiwan is almost permanently bathed in sunlight, while western, northwestern and eastern Taiwan offer excellent locations for wind power turbines, Yen said.

The government could even choose to construct offshore wind turbines, he said, adding that while it might drive overhead costs up, locating turbines offshore would free land for other uses and address the problem of noise generated by the turbines.

Most importantly wind power does not cause pollution, Yen said.

“Our ancestors were wise enough to leave us with the adage ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and it’s time the government started looking at alternatives to nuclear power,” Yen said.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is a mishmash of different parts, and the quality of Taiwan’s public construction has always been questionable, Yen said, adding that he did not understand why the government was set on constructing the power plant.

“It might be that some people stand to gain from the construction, but Taiwan does not have the capital to survive a nuclear disaster,” Yen said, adding that if an incident similar to the one that occurred at Fukushima happened in Taiwan, the island would be finished.

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