Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear facility might see use as geothermal plant

NUCLEAR ISSUE:The minister said Taipower has proposed to transport nuclear waste stored on Orchid Island back to the nuclear plants or to choose a site for centralized storage

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) is to launch a plan by the end of this year that would see nuclear power plants transformed into geothermal power generation facilities, AEC Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) said yesterday.

The nation’s three operating nuclear plants are to be decommissioned one after the other until 2025 and this retirement is proceeding as scheduled, Hsieh told the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday, adding that the council has also funded efforts to study “green” energy in recent years.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) said the council should be tasked with the development of geothermal power, given that a viable source can be found about 20km beneath the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里).

One of Wu’s references was a March 4 op-ed by Wang Shou-cheng (王守誠) on TechNews (科技新報). In the article, Wang encouraged the government to set up a geothermal energy development zone in Wanli and Jinshan (金山) districts where two nuclear power plants are located.

While the nation hopes to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, geothermal power should not be marginalized in consideration of different sources, Wu said.

The government should consider launching a more progressive plan to make use of the geothermal energy stored beneath the Guosheng plant, Wu said, adding that the AEC must play a more active role in such a plan.

Also expressing his support for geothermal power, Hsieh promised to propose a preliminary plan to develop sources of geothermal energy beneath nuclear power plants by the end of December.

As for the storage of nuclear waste on Orchid Island (蘭嶼, Lanyu), Hsieh said the council is evaluating two disposal plans proposed by Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) — either transporting it back to the original power plants or to choose another site for centralized storage.

Hsieh made the remarks in response to questions from DPP Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅).

Under the first plan, Taipower would need five years for preparation and four more years to transport the waste, Hsieh said.

Spent nuclear fuel would be kept in indoor dry storage rooms, newly appointed Taipower chairman Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said when assuming office on Monday last week.

New Taipei City residents are not entirely opposed to the plan and they also welcome the indoors storage of spent fuel, Hsieh said yesterday, adding that more communication with local governments and the public is needed.

As for the scenario in which a centralized storage location would be used, Taipower would be required to select a site within three years and to finish construction within five years, Hsieh said.

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