Newspaper article China Post

Sustainable, Risk-Free Energy Is an Admirable Goal, but It May Well Be a Long Way off for Taiwan

Newspaper article China Post

Sustainable, Risk-Free Energy Is an Admirable Goal, but It May Well Be a Long Way off for Taiwan

Article excerpt

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TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Can green energy replace nuclear power in Taiwan? By most accounts, the answer is yes.

With Nuke 4 coming up to a vote, the public spotlight has slid to the question of how Taiwan can replace nuclear power on its energy portfolio.

The opposition party has pointed to renewable energies, particularly wind and solar technologies, which are by far Taiwan's most mature. "Replacing nuclear energy with green technology has always been a (Democratic Progressive Party) policy," said Su Tseng-chang this Wednesday.

In a rare event of bipartisan harmony, the pan-green plank is also the stuff of the Kuomintang's dreams. Taiwan shall move toward environmental sustainability, said President Ma Ying-jeou in his "Golden Decade" pronouncement.

As part of an intense investment program in renewables, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is installing 300 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity every year, according to a January report. The goal is to build up an offshore capacity of 3,000 MW, which, alongside land-based wind farms, will provide a total capacity of 4,200 MW by 2020. The Ma administration is also investing in solar power, which reportedly can provide a capacity of 1,020 MW by 2020.

Currently, Nukes 1, 2 and 3 have a total net capacity of 4,927 MW, so if Ma meets his targets, wind and solar power could entirely replace nuclear power for Taiwan by 2020.

The Wrench

The problem is that if Nuke 4 goes offline, there would be at least a two-year period of serious power shortage that could hinder Taiwan's progress toward its green targets.

Nuke 1, which provides a net capacity of 1,208 MW, begins its shutdown in 2018. At that point, Nuke 4 could pick up the slack with its net capacity of 2,600 MW.

Alternatively, it won't. If the plug is pulled on Nuke 4 during the national referendum, Taiwan will need to look elsewhere to satisfy its energy needs after 2018.

One alternative is to extend the authorized life span of Nuke 1, and of Nukes 2 and 3 after that. …

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