With a National Energy Conference scheduled for Monday, EU Representative to Taiwan Frederic Laplanche, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and members of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) yesterday convened in Taipei to exchange views on the nation’s energy future, vowing to open up the monopolized energy sector and help the nation strive toward better energy efficiency.
TEPU chairperson Liu Gin-hsiu (劉俊秀) said President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration regards the use of nuclear energy as a way of keeping carbon emissions low.
He said that based on comments made during regional meetings held last month and this month to gather public opinion before the national conference, a proposal to extend the service life of the Jinshan, Guosheng and Ma-anshan nuclear power plants next week is a certainty.
Describing the danger of nuclear plants as a smiling curve, he said such facilities are the most dangerous when they are first established and then when they have been in service for 40 years, a milestone that one of the nation’s nuclear power plants is quickly approaching.
Despite that, Liu said, the administration seeks to extend the service life of the Jinshan nuclear power plant, which began operations in 1978 and is the oldest of the three plants by 20 years.
“We voiced clear objections to such a proposal during the regional meetings, and carbon reduction methods will be one of this event’s themes,” he said.
Tsai, who spoke as the president of the DPP’s think tank New Frontier Foundation, said the energy sector faces several major problems. For instance, its energy import dependency is so high that it threatens national security in the event of a nationwide power shortage.
She said that the DPP would endeavor to end the monopoly of state-run energy companies by proposing an amendment to the Electricity Act (電業法), which would ensure an even distribution of responsibilities between the generation and supply of electricity to boost the efficiency of the energy sector.
She said the party would press ahead with its 2025 Nuclear-free Homeland Initiative by boosting the nation’s use of energy from renewable sources from the current 4 percent to 20 percent.
“Developing renewable energy [sources] does more than close the gap in energy production in the absence of nuclear energy. It will also help stimulate the growth of related industries, thereby creating new job opportunities and revitalizing Taiwan’s stagnant economy,” Tsai said.
Laplanche said that Taiwan is not doing enough in either carbon reduction or the development of renewable energy sources.
He presented a world map that showed countries that have joined, are considering joining or are set to be part of the EU’s emissions trading system, and said that Taiwan is not even on the map.
Laplanche said that Taiwan is the second-largest exporter of solar panels, accounting for about 20 percent of the overall market. However, its estimated generation capacity from photovoltaic energy in relation to its total energy production is 26th in the world — well below 1 percent.
He added that he has rarely seen a solar panel during his time in Taiwan.
He said that the Horizon 2020 program launched by the EU invests nearly 1 billion euros (US$1.13 billion) annually in its research into secure, clean and efficient energy, and that Taiwan’s research teams are welcome take part in the project.
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