Lai reiterates ‘nuclear-free’ goal by 2025

Taipei, Premier Lai Ching-te (???) reiterated on Friday the government's determination to eliminate nuclear power from Taiwan's energy mix by 2025.

An amendment to the Electricity Act passed in January 2017 "clearly stipulates that power-generating facilities using nuclear power must stop running by the end of 2025," Lai said in a briefing on Taiwan's energy policy at the Legislative Yuan.

By that time, 20 percent of Taiwan's electricity will come from renewable resources, offsetting nuclear power use, with 50 percent generated by natural gas and 30 percent coming from coal, Lai said.

In 2016, nuclear power accounted for 12 percent of total electricity generation, compared with 4.8 percent for renewable power, 45.4 percent for coal, 32.4 percent for natural gas and 5.4 from other sources such as fuel oil and hydropower, Lai said.

Statistics from the official website of Taiwan's state-run Taiwan Power Company showed nuclear power actually accounting for 13.5 percent of all power generated, compared with 36.9 percent for coal, 36 percent for natural gas, 5.1 percent for renewable energy, 4.4 percent for oil and the rest from co-generation and pumped hydro power.

Those statistics show that only 9.3 percent of power generated in 2017 came from nuclear power, compared with 39.2 percent from coal, 38.6 percent from natural gas and 4.8 percent from oil and 4.9 percent from renewables.

All of the generators at Taiwan's three active nuclear power plants are required to be decommissioned by 2025, Lai said, but the government will do its best to meet demand, improve air quality and increase the use of green energy by that time to offset the phasing out of nuclear power.

The government will diversify energy sources, promote the smart use of electricity and boost power-saving technology to achieve those goals, he said.

Starting in 2019, the government hopes to exceed an overall reserve margin target of 15 percent and an operating margin of 10 percent each year while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 28.88 million tons by 2025.

When asked by lawmaker Wang Ting-yu (???) of Lai's own Democratic Progressive Party if Lai would consider reopening the fourth nuclear power plant, which has been mothballed since 2014, to satisfy growing consumption, Lai said he would not, saying it went against mainstream public opinion.

"After a lengthy debate over the past few decades, Taiwan's society has reached a consensus of building a nuclear-free homeland, which is also clearly stipulated in the Electricity Act," Lai said.

To meet growing power demand as nuclear power generation declines, the government is planning to upgrade the coal-fired Shen'ao Power Plant with two ultra supercritical coal-powered generators.

Critics contend that the plant will only exacerbate the heavy air pollution that has affected Taiwan in recent years, with some advocating that the government reconsider its nuclear-free agenda and use nuclear power in place of coal-fired plants.

"The rebuilding of the Shen'ao Power Plant is aimed at providing sufficient power to northern Taiwan," Lai said in defending the move, arguing that "it will not cause air pollution in the north as it is the government's promise to supply sufficient power to the public and ensure their health."

Wang also asked about the possibility of consumer prices going up if electricity rates were to be increased again.

Lai replied that although electricity rates were raised by an average of 3 percent in April to reflect rising global crude oil prices, 85 percent of households were unaffected.

Even if the Ministry of Economic Affairs plans to adjust Taiwan's electricity rates again, the Executive Yuan will undoubtedly ask it to take the public's livelihood into account before doing so, Lai said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel