The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Tuesday passed an initial environmental impact evaluation of a Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) project to build three gas turbines at Hsinta Power Plant in Kaohsiung.
The decision came after an agency task force met for the fourth time to deliberate the state-run energy company’s plans for the plant.
Originally, Taipower had intended to take the plant’s coal-fired units and gas turbines offline only after the newer, more efficient combined-cycle gas turbines are completed, a plan environmental groups panned as being too conservative.
The task force approved the project following a statement by Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) saying that two of the coal-fired units at the plant would be shut down in autumn and winter.
The plant currently operates nine generating units, of which four are coal-fired and five are older gas turbines, Taipower told the agency.
Three new gas turbines with a combined output of nearly 3.9 megawatts are to be built on an adjacent property owned by Taipower and their completion is projected for 2023, it said.
Taipower presented its schedule for decommissioning the existing units, with the coal-fired generators to be shut down from 2023 to 2026, followed by the existing gas turbines in 2026 and 2027.
However, members of the task force demurred, saying that the schedule was too slow, especially with regard to Hsinta’s coal-fired No. 3 and No. 4 units, which combined produce less than 1 megawatt, but would, under the proposal, stay operational until 2025 and 2026 respectively.
The company prefers having coal in reserve until the supply of natural gas is boosted by upgrades to port terminals in Kaohsiung and Taichung, Taipower officials said, adding that in their view, shelving coal by 2023 would increase uncertainty over the supply of energy.
Tseng told the task force that instead of reducing the energy load on existing coal-fired units in Hsinta, two of the plants would be shut down in autumn and winter, which should result in an immediate reduction in air pollution and carbon emissions.
The task force agreed to allow the project to pass to the consideration of the agency’s environmental impact evaluation committee with the addendum that Taipower must submit a more detailed study of the plant and animal species in the area, and their population and distribution.
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