Shuttering power plant to discourage investment: experts

COUNTING THE COST::The Supply Management Institute in Taiwan urged protesters to be aware that energy costs play a critical role in competitiveness

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, May 03, 2014 - Page 3

Halting the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) will have little effect on the nation’s manufacturing sector in the short term, but it could have a negative influence in the long run, experts said.

Taiwan’s manufacturing activity has not yet been affected by the dispute over the power plant, but the potential for future power shortages or electricity rationing will likely discourage local and foreign investment, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research president Wu Chung-shu (吳中書) said.

“We really need practical discussion about such issues, including the recent protests against the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and the service trade agreement with China,” Wu said. “We should avoid political and emotional discussion, and refer to the experiences of other countries.”

Wu urged the government to draft an energy policy based on pertinent analysis after weighing the pros and cons of the power plant.

“Never ignore the balance between costs and efficiency,” he added.

It will take time for Taiwan, which relies on imports for 98 percent of its fossil fuel, to move toward becoming a nuclear-free nation, Wu said, adding that the public should consider which is riskier — operating the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant or extending the lifespans of the three existing plants.

Academia Sinica economics researcher Kamhon Kan (簡錦漢) agreed, saying that the public should consider if the nation could maintain its economic growth without the power plant and the cross-strait service trade agreement.

Steve Lai (賴樹鑫), executive director of the Supply Management Institute in Taiwan, also urged protesters to be aware that energy costs play a critical role in the nation’s competitiveness.

Construction of the power plant’s nearly completed No. 1 and No. 2 reactors has been halted. The No. 1 reactor, which is currently undergoing safety inspections, will not be brought online once the inspections are completed, according to the government.

The Executive Yuan has also promised to convene a national energy conference as soon as possible “to ensure that there will be no cause for worry over future power supply.”

The opposition parties and antinuclear groups have increased their pressure on the administration since earlier this month and have been demanding that the project be scrapped altogether to avoid the danger of a nuclear accident.