Tue, Apr 09, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Hearing on nuclear power shows divide

HE SAID, SHE SAID:A public discussion on a low-carbon nation free of nuclear energy ended in a stalemate, with academics saying the two goals together were unfeasible

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The government’s calculations on the cost of nuclear power are misleading and zero growth in electricity demand is the solution for Taiwan’s energy problems, anti-nuclear activists said yesterday at a public hearing on achieving a low-carbon, nuclear-free homeland held at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

However, the Bureau of Energy said that zero growth in power demand would be nearly impossible to achieve in the near future.

“The two goals [low-carbon and nuclear-free] cannot coexist,” National Tsing Hua University nuclear engineering professor Lee Min (李敏) said.

Saying that wanting these two aims at once was like “wanting the horses to grow strong, but not letting them eat grass,” Gibson Engineers president Chen Li-cheng (陳立誠) said that the two goals cannot be linked because “if we shut down the nation’s three operating nuclear power plants, the increase in carbon emissions would equal the amount emitted by all of the vehicles in Taiwan.”

“Even if we generate electricity using natural gas in the most efficient way possible ... carbon emissions from gas plants will still be 14 times higher than that of nuclear power plants,” Tamkang University economics professor Liao Huei-chu (廖惠珠) said.

However, Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉) said that statistics provided by the Bureau of Energy in 2010 showed that the cost of nuclear-generated electricity is NT$0.64 per kilowatt hour (kWh), but data from the US Department of Energy showed that the cost of such electricity is actually between NT$3.30 and NT$3.50 per kWh.

“It is very dangerous for the government to keep using misleading statistics to make policies,” he said, adding that the government should publish its cost formula for everyone to examine.

Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑) said the government has always linked economic growth to increased electricity demand to argue that nuclear power cannot be abolished without hurting the economy. However, though it has consistently overestimated power demand over the past decade and wasted vast electricity reserves, it still uses the same formula to estimate a 25 percent growth in demand by 2020.

Statistics show that the income of company owners has grown from 40 percent of national GDP to 50 percent, while the average salary has stagnated, Lai added. This indicates that GDP growth has increased inequality, so the government should reconsider whether economic growth predicated on high electricity consumption is benefiting everyone.

When the hearing ended at noon, there was still no clear consensus.

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