Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said Thursday his government will not rule out the use of nuclear power provided that the technology’s safety issues are resolved.
“In the future, if new technology can resolve nuclear energy safety issues and the problem relating to nuclear waste, I believe [Taiwanese] society will accept it [nuclear power],” said Lai, who is also vice president, during a press conference at the ruling party’s Taipei headquarters.
In that regard, the government “will not rule out the use of safe, waste-free nuclear,” he added, without specifying how safe he thinks nuclear power should be to be reconsidered as an energy source for the country.
Lai was responding to a reporter’s question about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) energy policy, which has set a goal of phasing out nuclear power by 2025 and relying heavily on liquefied natural gas as an energy source by 2030, before renewable energy can assume a larger share in the country’s energy mix.
Lai, who has campaigned on a bid to continue Tsai’s energy and other policies and programs, is the only presidential candidate who remains opposed to the continued operation of nuclear power plants in Taiwan.
Nuclear power supporters
Lai’s rivals, including Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) from the main opposition party Kuomintang, and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of the Taiwan People’s Party, have publicly endorsed the reactivation of the Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant, the country’s fourth but unfinished plant, despite controversy surrounding the project.
In addition, the two candidates, as well as independent contender Terry Gou (郭台銘), have supported proposals to extend the operations of Taiwan’s three other nuclear power plants.
Currently, the first two plants, namely New Taipei’s Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant and Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant, have entered the decommissioning stage while the third one, the Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung, will remain operational until May 2025.
At the press event, Lai said the reactivation of the fourth nuclear power plant is no longer an issue since the people of Taiwan voted against it in a national referendum in December 2021.
Lai also rejected the idea of extending the remaining plants’ operations, arguing their ongoing and planned decommissions are in line with regulations.
He was likely referring to the regulations of Taiwan’s Nuclear Safety Commission, which stipulate that applications for the extension of a nuclear reactor’s operation must be submitted to the commission at least five years prior to the expiration of that reactor’s operating license.
The vice president also defended the government’s current energy policy, saying that while natural gas will maintain a 50 percent share in the country’s energy mix until 2030, that percentage will gradually go down as renewable energy continues to develop.
The government initially expected to achieve an energy mix of 50 percent natural gas, 30 percent coal and 20 percent renewable energy by 2025, but it is behind schedule on renewable energy development and has also run into setbacks in building its natural gas capacity infrastructure.
Those delays have led to concerns that Taiwan could face energy shortfalls in 2025 and 2026 and a lack of low-carbon energy in the second half of the decade.
Nevertheless, Lai said the country’s power supply remains “stable,” noting that state-owned Taiwan Power Company always maintains an operating reserve of 10 to 15 percent.
He also said that, if elected president next January, he would strive to expedite the development of not just solar and wind power, but also that of geothermal, hydrogen, and biomass energy — a pledge already included in the government’s “Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050” launched last March.
Source: Focus Taiwan