The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Monday approved an environmental impact assessment for two planned natural gas-fired generators, which are to be constructed at the Taichung Power Plant.
The generators are to have a combined installed capacity of 2.6 million kilowatts, said state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), the plant’s operator.
The generators and related facilities are to be built on land already owned by the company, so as not to impact the environment, Taipower said.
The EPA reviewed the project three times from October 2018 to June last year.
In October last year, it was reviewed a fourth time, and on Monday it was discussed at an environmental impact assessment meeting attended by officials, energy experts and environmental advocates.
During the five-hour meeting, environmental groups criticized the plant for failing to reduce its number of coal-powered generators, saying that “without doing so, [the project] will be an expansion of the power plant.”
The Taichung plant has 10 coal-fired power generators, but plans to only use six of them after the two natural gas generators are activated, it said, adding that doing so would reduce its emissions of air pollutants by 64 to 72 percent.
Experts at the meeting said it would be a waste to burn natural gas to generate power, as gas is more effective when used in the form of liquefied natural gas.
However, natural gas resources are stable to operate, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) told the meeting, adding that when operating the two new units, tighter standards would be applied to regulate emissions of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
Tseng also promised stricter management of the plant’s existing coal-fired units, saying that the plant would only be allowed to operate more than six generators simultaneously for 240 hours per year, and that the power plant would not be allowed to operate more than 10 units (coal-fired and natural gas-fired) simultaneously.
It was unacceptable that the two units passed the environmental impact assessment, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said.
The Taichung City Government strongly objects to the ruling and has lodged a protest, she said.
The fossil fuel-dependent Taichung Power Plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world, was slapped with hefty fines last year for breaching regulations, including by using more coal than is permitted for the year and failing to cease using raw coal.
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