MOEA official sees renewable energy as a way to cut air pollution

Taipei, Nov. 3 (CNA) Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (???) said Saturday that he believes an increase in the use of renewable energy is an effective way to improve air pollution in Taiwan.

In a televised presentation with opposition Kuomintang lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen (???), who proposed a referendum to cut electricity output from thermal power plants in Taiwan year by year, Tseng said Lu's proposal is just a mild way to lower air pollution and based on her plan, Taiwan will have to spend 100 years to have coal-fired power plants grind to a complete halt.

According to Lu's referendum proposal approved by the Central Election Committee last month, voters will cast their ballot for the question which asks: "Do you agree the electricity output of thermal power plants should be lowered by at least 1 percent per year on average?"

Lu's anti-air pollution referendum is one of the 10 to be held alongside the local elections on Nov. 24.

Tseng said using modern technology will make cutting air pollution more effective and the use of renewable energy to replace the electricity produced by thermal power plants could be a better option.

By using more renewable energy, he said the government aims to cut output from thermal power plants by 35 percent over the next seven to eight years.

But Lu still urged voters to support her referendum, saying the public has the right to express their dissatisfaction with the current dirty air affecting their health.

Lu said after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) assumed power in May 2016, the government has allowed Taiwan's nuclear power reactors to retire earlier than planned, but since the efforts to push for renewable energy failed to make up for the drop in power supply, output from thermal power plants has been raised, to close the gap accordingly.

Lu cited data complied by Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), the state-owned power supplier in the country, as saying the ratio of output by fossil-fuel power plants in Taiwan increased to 84.4 percent of the total power supply in 2017, from 78.3 percent in 2015, making thermal power plants one of the major reasons behind Taiwan's poor air quality.

Lu said a higher density in PM2.5 concentration in the air has boosted the chance of people getting a wide range of diseases, such as cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and dementia.

Lu, a lawmaker elected in Taichung, central Taiwan, said 80 percent of the air pollution in Taichung was caused by thermal power plants and the death rate from chronic respiratory diseases in the city was the highest among the six largest cities in the country.

Tseng said the government has no intention to retire nuclear power plants earlier than expected as Lu mentioned. He added the current suspension of some reactors resulted from technical problems.

Tseng said the country should have a comprehensive program to cut air pollution instead of just a move to cut output of thermal power plants, and other measures include a reduction of emissions from highly polluted old motorcycles and reducing dust produced by construction sites.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel