Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday said Taiwan could not afford to abandon nuclear power in the near future and should enhance its nuclear energy program by developing advanced technologies, such as nuclear fusion.
“Taiwanese scientists should work on nuclear fusion research and engineering to explore new methods to replace current technologies, which are based on nuclear fission, and are a by-product of the Manhattan Project developed during World War II,” Lee said on the second day of a two-day visit to Hsinchu County.
While the nation is embroiled in the debate over the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), and nuclear technology does pose threats of radiation leaks and other risks to human health, theproduction of nuclear energy is not all bad, he said.
There are alternative ways to generate nuclear electricity, but no one in Taiwan was willing to discuss them, he said.
The nuclear-free homeland initiative promoted by several politicians, such as former Democratic Progressive Party chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), is well-intentioned, Lee said, but Taiwan is unlikely to secure sufficient electricity supplies from alternative energy sources with its high dependence on imported oil and gas.
Wind and solar sources of energy both have limitations and could not fill the void left by nuclear power, he said.
Between now and the implementation of nuclear fusion projects, biomass energy would be a good option to meet the nation’s electricity demand, as more than 200,000 hectares of fallow land could be used to plant sugarcane or corn to produce alcohol fuel, which is a mature and widespread technology used in countries such as Brazil, he said.
Lee said he would not participate in the government’s proposed referendum on continuing the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
Commenting on the fisheries agreement signed by Taiwan and Japan on Wednesday, which assured Taiwanese vessels a larger intervention-free fishing zone around the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), Lee said the agreement would benefit Taiwanese fishermen in operating in fishing grounds they have worked for more than a century.
Lee he was glad that the agreement had finally been signed 17 years after negotiations began, and said that Japan had made concessions in the talks for a number of reasons.
Japan would like to strengthen its partnership with Taiwan in the wake of heightened tensions with China over the Diaoyutais, Lee said, adding that it also might feel like it needs to repay Taiwanese for the huge donations they made after a tsunami and earthquake rocked Japan in March 2011.