Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Expert says air pollution issue is overexaggerated

CLEAN COAL?One former chairman of the group said emissions from coal-fired power plants can be cut to about that of gas facilities with the right technologies

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Clean air campaigners hold signs calling for zero tolerance of air pollution at a protest in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The problem of air pollution has been overexaggerated by some environmental groups and the media, Taiwan Professional Environmental Engineers Association chairman Hu Ssu-tsung (胡思聰) told a forum yesterday, calling on the government to conduct more careful evaluations of energy and environmental policies.

“The issue of air pollution has raised public concern to a certain level, but whether the problem is really that serious should be clarified,” Hu said.

While many environmentalists keep a close watch on the levels of PM2.5 — airborne particulate matter that measures 2.5 micrometers or less — the key is to analyze its composition and the sources of emissions, he said.

Government agencies, especially the Environmental Protection Administration, should allow the public to access data “that are traceable and verifiable” so that people can deliberate on the risks when choosing from different energy sources, he said.

The nation’s electricity prices are irrationally low, as they are not adjusted even when the environmental cost of power generation increases, former Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院) chairman Liang Chi-yuan (梁啟源) said.

Last year, electricity prices in Taiwan averaged NT$2.6159 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a decrease of 10.8 percent from 2015, Taiwan Power Co data showed.

By comparison, residential electricity prices in Germany are significantly higher — between NT$10 and NT$11 per kWh — because they include environmental and power generation costs, Liang said.

The government should not predicate its energy policies on the opinions of a few environmentalists simply because they make a significant amount of noise, former association chairman Chen Chun-ming (陳俊明) said, adding that officials should pay more attention to the cost efficiency of various energy sources.

While environmentalists continue to demand a reduction in the amount of coal used by the energy sector, the pollution caused by coal-fired power plants can be curtailed to almost the level of gas-fired power plants, on the condition that they are equipped with the best available emissions control technologies, he said.

Replacing coal with natural gas at power plants would only reduce the nation’s PM2.5 levels by 1.32 percent on average, he added.

Environmental engineers and officials from the energy sector attended the association’s forum, which was held at National Taiwan University from Monday to yesterday.

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