Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taichung coal-fired plant lowers output amid bad air quality

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Taichung Power Plant on Sunday and Monday lowered its output for the first time in its history to reduce emissions amid heightened air pollution levels in central and southern Taiwan.

The 27-year-old plant — the largest coal-fired plant in the world — reduced its power generation by 18 percent from 5.5 million kilowatts to 4.5 million kilowatts at the request of the Taichung City Government as the density of fine particulate matter under 25 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) had reached hazardous levels in the city.

Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), the plant’s operator, said the facility reduced its output on Sunday, when power demand was low, but continued to run at reduced capacity early on Monday at the request of the city government due to excessive PM2.5 levels.

PM2.5 concentrations had reached the purple level — the most severe degree of PM2.5 pollution according to the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) four-color categorization — due to a weather pattern that trapped airborne pollutants, the agency said.

The plant returned to maximum output later on Monday due to increasing demand and improved air quality, Taipower said.

The company said that it agreed to the city government’s proposal to establish a standard operating procedure to adjust power output when air pollution reaches a certain level.

A draft operating procedure suggested by the city government proposes reducing the plant’s output when more than half of the city’s 11 air quality monitoring stations report purple PM2.5 levels, the city government said.

Taipower said it is willing to replace some of its coal-fired electricity generation with natural-gas-generated electricity, which is more costly, though it produces less carbon, during times of off-peak demand, especially in autumn and winter, at the request of local governments — as long as the national power supply is not affected.

The Taichung City Government said it is pushing a proposed city bylaw that would limit the burning of petroleum coke and coal, which already passed a first reading in the city council, while it has also told 307 schools in the city to adjust their activities according to air quality readings.

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