No nuclear power, more carbon: minister

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - Page 3

Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) yesterday said that scrapping nuclear power would not only make carbon reduction goals nearly impossible to achieve, but also risked increasing carbon emissions.

Reporting on the EPA’s efforts to establish a low-carbon sustainable homeland at the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Shen was repeatedly asked to discuss the impact of abolishing nuclear power and for his opinion on nuclear power policies.

“Of course everyone would be very happy if we could abolish nuclear power immediately, but from the perspective of achieving carbon reduction goals, it is an impossible task,” he said, adding that the immediate abolition of nuclear power and the generation of all power from sustainable energy are both “romantic ideals.”

Taiwan’s goal and commitment to the world is to reduce carbon emissions to the level of 2005 by 2020 and the level of 2000 by 2025, which would necessitate a reduction in carbon emissions of about 80 million tonnes, he said.

If the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant does not go into operation and is replaced with coal-fired power plants, total emissions would need to be cut by about 97 million tonnes, he said, adding that even if natural gas power plants were opened there would still be an increase in carbon emissions of about 12 million tonnes and costs would be higher than for coal-powered plants.

He said that while wind power and solar power are said to be environmentally friendly, sustainable energy sources and good alternatives to nuclear or fossil fuel power, more investment in facilities would be needed to increase the stability of wind power transmission and storage, and the cost of solar power is relatively high.

Claiming to have no preset stance for or against nuclear power, Shen said: “From a scientific point of view, the risks from climate change are more serious than from nuclear power. Climate change is hard to control, but nuclear power can be controlled to an extent.”

He said the issues of the abolition of nuclear power plants and carbon reduction can be decided by whether people are willing to reduce electricity consumption, and that various risks should be compared and discussed rationally before the referendum takes place.