No consensus on whether the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant construction project in Gongliao Dictrict (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), should continue was reached at a public seminar held by an educational foundation in Taipei this weekend.
Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑) said foreign reports showed that the nuclear power reactors currently in operation in Taiwan are listed as located in areas that have very high risks of natural accidents and are unsuitable for developing nuclear power.
Although no major disasters have occurred at the nation’s nuclear power plants in the past 30 years, this does not imply that they are safe, Lai said.
“All it means is that we have been lucky, but cannot guarantee we will always be so lucky,” Lai said.
“Keep the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in mind and remember that such a serious disaster happened in a nation that was considered to be very careful,” he said, adding that Taiwan is even less suitable for developing nuclear power than Japan and that such an accident would cause irreversible damage to the nation.
He said if an accident did occur at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, residents living within 40km from it would have to be evacuated, which means that half of the people living in Greater Taipei would be affected.
However, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research chairman Liang Chi-yuan (梁啟源) said the price of electricity would increase drastically if Taiwanese choose to abandon nuclear power.
Many people who oppose nuclear power have advocated using natural gas, but the cost of generating this source of energy is more than two times higher than electricity generated by nuclear power, he said, adding that the safety reserves of natural gas plants only last one week, meaning the power supply could be affected in situations such as typhoons.
He said nuclear power plants are expected to provide 60 percent of South Korea’s total electricity supply by 2030.
Conversely, if Taiwan refuses to continue construction on the new plant and allows the operating plants to be decommissioned, no electricity will be supplied by nuclear power in Taiwan by 2030, Liang said.
Liang said the nation should have a diversified energy policy, and that a reasonable energy price policy can help improve efficiency.
However, Lai said the government should not increase electricity prices for households only, because the price for the industrial sector, which consumes much more of the nation’s electricity, is too low.