Thu, Sep 03, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Protesters rally against Yushan power proposal

RENEWABLE ENERGY:Protesters said that a solar facility might be a more environmentally friendly and lower-cost alternative to provide power to Jade Mountain

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin, second left, and environmental activists demonstrate outside the Construction and Planning Agency in Taipei yesterday against the Yushan National Park Administration’s plan to extend electricity wires to the Pai Yun Lodge.

Photo: CNA

Environmental groups yesterday staged a rally in front of the Construction and Planning Agency’s headquarters in Taipei to protest a proposal to construct a long-distance power line on Yushan (玉山), or Jade Mountain, the nation’s highest peak.

Making coffee with a solar-powered coffee van to show how off-grid green energy could sustain basic living needs, dozens of protesters said that the proposed power line is completely unnecessary, and the agency should not try to turn Paiyun Lodge (排雲山莊), the famed camp site at an altitude of 3,400m on Yushan, into a hotel and boost carbon emissions.

The Yushan National Park Administration has proposed a NT$200 million (US$6.1 million) project to construct an 8.5km-long power line from Tataka (塔塔加) — a saddle on Yushan in Chiayi County at an altitude of 2,610m — to the lodge to transmit commercial power to meet emergency medical needs, as well as electricity and communication demands.

Taiwan Renewable Energy Alliance managing director Kao Ju-ping (高茹萍) said that a solar facility is more suitable to mountain areas because there is sufficient radiation, and authorities should turn Yushan into a model national park to demonstrate how renewable energy could replace conventional power sources.

Taiwan Environmental Protection Union secretary-general Chen Bing-heng (陳秉亨) said a 10kW solar generator should meet the park administration’s estimated daily power consumption of 37kW, which would cost only about NT$1 million and is much cheaper than the proposed power line project.

Emergency medical devices such as oxygen concentrators and automated external defibrillators are usually equipped with rechargeable batteries and can be connected to off-grid power, nullifying the need to construct power lines on the mountain, Chen said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-ching (田秋堇) said that a combined solar and wind power system with a backup diesel generator should be adequate for hikers, adding that fixed power lines are costly to build and maintain, given the number of typhoons that visit the country each year.

Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association lawyer Hsieh Meng-yu (謝孟羽) said that the project cannot be approved for review without a study of the impact on public safety of development on such a geologically sensitive area.

In response, National Parks Division director Chan Te-shu (詹德樞), who accepted the protesters’ petition, said that the proposal is still in the planning stage and no budget has been allocated.

The establishment of a fixed power line is one of the three proposed projects to improve the facility on Yushan — the other two being a hydroelectric system and a combined solar-diesel power system of solar energy and diesel power — with none expected to be approved until after public hearings are conducted, Chan said.

Hikers have suggested that the agency upgrade the facility on the mountain following recent disasters, but the agency would only approve projects that garner enough public support, he said.

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