Despite increasing demand for electricity and delays in approving new power generation facilities, Taiwan’s power supply is “not a cause for concern,” and there are no plans to continue operating the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County beyond 2025, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said yesterday.
The remarks came after Tamkang University economics professor Liao Huei-chu (廖惠珠) called for an extension of the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant’s commission, as new facilities at Singda Power Plant in Kaohsiung, Taichung Power Plant and Hsieh-ho Power Plant in Keelung are still in the environmental review phase.
The three natural gas power projects have been delayed by local government assessments and environmental impact assessments, raising fears of a possible shortfall in energy capacity, Liao said.
“There are a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to the environmental assessment process, but the process is necessary,” Wang said at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee.
“There are no plans to extend the tenure of the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant. Our power supply is secure to the end of the year and we will have rolling discussions to make sure it remains that way,” she added.
Speaking to the Taipei Times by telephone, Liao yesterday said that keeping the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant running would be “the lesser of two evils.”
“If demand for electricity outstrips supply, it is better to keep the [plant] running than to keep burning dirty coal,” Liao said.
Electricity demand is set to increase with hotter summers and the trend of businesses returning to Taiwan to invest in production facilities, Liao said.
Taiwan could also raise its electricity rates, which have been frozen at NT$2.6 per kilowatt-hour since September 2018, Liao added.
“It is one of the cheapest rates for power in the world,” Liao said, “If we let prices go up, usage will naturally go down, but it is a political decision to keep power cheap.”
Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) manager Chang Ting-shu (張廷抒) told the Taipei Times that the natural gas power projects would be less polluting than coal-fired power plants, but local environmental concerns remain.
“For instance, building a receiving tank by the coastline could have an impact like any large construction,” Chang said.
The power usage capacity is at “green,” meaning that there is an operating reserve of 10 percent and an operating reserve margin of 15 percent, he said.
“Imagine a basketball team. The players on the court represent the capacity being used, the players on the bench ready to go in the game represent the operating reserve and all the players that are not on the court represent the operating reserve margin,” Chang said.
To assure stability, Taipower has kept some older coal-burning plants that local authorities and environmental groups said should be decommissioned on standby, he said.
“Most of the time they are not used,” he added.
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