United Daily News: Inconvenient truth about nuclear-free homeland

2017/06/29 15:43:09
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

After cheers for a nuclear-free homeland, it is time to face the inconvenient truth.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) campaigned on that slogan and won wide support, which led to the previous government announcing the mothballing of the almost-complete fourth nuclear power plant.

But the question is that if the plant is to be scrapped forever, who will foot the bill of NT$283.8 billion (US$9.35 billion) that has already been invested for its construction.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs reportedly plans to have householders and major industrial users pay NT$5,600 and NT$7.58 million on average, respectively, over a period of five to 10 years to absorb the costs.

This is the truth that Tsai did not tell you when advocating a nuclear free homeland.

Taiwan lacks natural resources, and its best strategy for energy is to diversify its sources and expand the ratio of green energy.

But the ruling party has played up public fears in the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant leaks following the devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami of March 11, 2011, while ignoring the features of nuclear power -- a clean, cheap and stable power supply.

Not only that, the Tsai administration has said repeatedly that "there will be no shortage of power" and that "electricity rates will not go up."

These two promises are now facing tough tests. Indeed, the power shortage problem has worsened with the arrival of summer.

To cope with the situation, the Tsai administration has stepped up construction of natural gas power plants and increased thermal power generation, as well as reactivating the suspended reactors of the nuclear power plants.

But the cost of natural gas generation is much higher than that of nuclear power, while increased thermal power generation increases air pollution. What's more, are the old reactors of the old nuclear power plants safer than the new reactor of the fourth nuclear power plant?

It's easy to make promises, but difficult to deliver them, which is the usual gambit of politicians.

But the inconvenient truth will come when a bill for the NT$283.8 billion cost of scrapping the fourth nuclear power plant is sent to your home. (June 29, 2017 Editorial abstract) (Summarized by Lilian Wu)

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