A proposed referendum to stop CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (台灣中油) third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project in Taoyuan would exacerbate a potential energy crunch in northern Taiwan, a Bureau of Energy official and an academic told the Taipei Times yesterday.
The terminal is to be built in the Guantang Industrial Park (觀塘工業區) off the coast of Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音), but environmentalists are pushing for a referendum against the project, which they said would endanger the algal reefs and other marine species at the planned construction site.
The proposed terminal is critical for supplying LNG to the Datan power plant, Bureau of Energy Deputy Director-General Lee Chun-li (李君禮) said.
Photo courtesy of an unnamed environmental protection group via CNA
“No terminal, no gas,” he said by telephone.
This could cause an electricity crunch in northern Taiwan as industrial use increases amid a manufacturing boom, while the aging Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) is slated to be decommissioned early next year.
Lee called on Taiwanese to think holistically and act rationally.
“Before they sign the petition, I suggest people visit the Web site of the Environmental Protection Agency where there are years of environmental impact assessment [EIA] records available,” Lee said. “If they went through those, they would know that we are not actually building the terminal on any algal reef.”
Lee said the footprint of the site had been dramatically reduced by 90 percent through the EIA process and would sit on a site already filled in years ago in a previous construction project.
Law office Winkler Partners expressed its support for the referendum.
“We’re not convinced that the 7,500-year-old algal reef off Taoyuan’s coast will remain unaffected by this proposed development,” Winkler Partners wrote on Twitter.
“We’d like to see a greater focus on energy efficiency & reductions, ramped up installation of renewables etc, and maybe the additional gas capacity won’t be necessary,” it said.
However, National Central University economics professor Dachrahn Wu (吳大任) warned of a coming electricity crisis in northern Taiwan when demand increases and the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant goes offline.
Manufacturing has been booming in Taiwan, with Taiwanese manufacturers returning home and setting up production lines in the nation amid a US-China trade dispute.
“A shortage of electricity would constrain economic growth,” Wu said.
The government’s policy to increase LNG power generation is also a life-quality issue for Taichung residents, Lee said.
“Taipei uses more electricity than it produces. This means it is importing electricity from the dirtier coal-burning plants of Taichung,” he said.
Smog covered Taipei last week, when strong winds carried air pollution from the Taichung area.
“That gives you a little idea of what it is like to live in Taichung,” Lee said.
An energy shortfall could be serious enough to prompt authorities to consider completing the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮), Wu said.
“It can be Taiwan’s last nuclear power plant, but we need that extra bit of time to build up more capacity from LNG and renewables,” he said.
However, Lee dismissed a return to nuclear power.
“Forget about starting the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, we cannot even find a way to let the second nuclear power plant run for its full lifespan,” Lee said, referring to the Guosheng plant. “No municipality in Taiwan will give a license for nuclear waste storage facilities.”
Due to lack of storage, the fuel rods from the decommissioned Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) remain in the reactor, a situation Lee described as “not unsafe, but highly irregular.”
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