A spike in demand for electricity made it necessary to restart the third coal-fired generator at the Taichung Power Plant, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said yesterday as a feud with the Taichung City Government lingers.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) has sought to keep the generator from being used. In 2019, he revoked Taipower’s license to operate the generator.
However, the state-run utility has taken the city government to court over the license revocation and won the case in February last year, Taipower manager Chang Ting-shu (張廷抒) said.
Photo: Su Ching-feng, Taipei Times
“We would like to remind the Taichung City Government that operation of the third coal-fired generator is completely legal,” Chang said, adding that the municipality is being “unreasonable and obstructive.”
The plant has long been a sore spot for residents, who complain about pollution.
Taipower said an unexpected high rate of electricity use while plants elsewhere were undergoing maintenance made it inevitable that the generator would be brought back online.
“From January to last month, we used 3.3 percent more electricity than the same period last year,” Chang said. “Returning Taiwanese manufacturers, high demand for exports and increased domestic electricity use are all up.”
“We were taken by surprise,” he said.
The generator has been retrofitted to reduce pollution, Chang said.
“It used to emit 0.6g to 0.7g of particulate pollution per kilowatt-hour, but that has been reduced to 0.46g,” he said.
Taichung’s air quality problems would subside when liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants — due to come online this summer — start generating electricity, he said, adding that Taiwan would not face an electricity shortage this summer.
However, Taiwan’s water situation is exacerbating an electricity crisis, said Chen Jong-shun (陳中舜), an assistant research fellow at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院).
“Taiwan is highly reliant on hydroelectricity to adjust peak energy usage, and the serious water shortage has directly affected our ability to use hydroelectricity,” Chen said.
The problem would worsen, as energy use spikes in summer, with July and August bringing the greatest demand, he said.
Moreover, the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) in June is to reduce electricity generation.
The central government should keep the Guosheng and Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County’s Ma-anshan (馬鞍山) running beyond their planned lifespans to save Taiwan from further power crunches, Chen said.
“It is absolutely doable on a technical level, as long as Taipei has the political resolve,” he added.
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