Sat, Apr 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

NUCLEAR POWER DEBATE: Consequences of scrapping fourth plant huge: minister

Staff writer, with CNA

Scrapping the nearly completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) could have far-reaching consequences for the nation’s energy policy, business environment and quality of life, Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said.

If the new plant is not brought into commercial operation before the three existing plants are retired as scheduled, the nation will be at risk of electricity shortages, Chang said.

He argued that a constant power supply is essential to maintaining the nation’s current comfortable lifestyle and, since domestic businesses account for about 60 percent of total power consumption, it would be impossible to experience economic growth without increasing the nation’s energy demands.

However, he said that conservation measures could be implemented in the absence of the fourth plant, namely by extending the service periods of the three existing plants to maintain a stable power supply.

Separately, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) on Thursday dismissed as unrealistic a proposal from anti-nuclear power activists to tap other energy resources, such as natural gas.

If Taiwan decides not to use nuclear power, it would take at least a decade to create a new national power system, Duh said.

Such a plan would not be feasible because of high costs and concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, he added.

Echoing Chang’s suggestion, Duh said that if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is not activated, operations at the first, second and third nuclear plants may have to be extended.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was proposed in the 1980s and was given the green light in March 1999.

However, the project has been repeatedly delayed and was once suspended for several months between 2000 and 2001 under the Democratic Progressive Party administration.

Construction at the plant was 93.74 percent completed at the end of last month, according to the state-owned Taiwan Power Co Web site.

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