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Rules on use of nuclear power could be revised if public agrees: minister

National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin speaks at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The government could revise the rules on the use of nuclear power, if the public agrees, to meet electricity needs to drive economic growth and industrial development, National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said yesterday.

Kung made the remarks in response to opposition lawmakers who said that minister of economic affairs-designate J.W. Kuo (郭智輝) called nuclear power “a clean energy source” during his courtesy visit to the legislature one day earlier.

Opposition lawmakers and trade groups have pressed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to reconsider phasing out nuclear power in the pursuit of net zero carbon emissions next year, saying that nuclear power is cheaper and environmental hazards could be controlled.


The government would go ahead and raise the share of renewable energy sources in line with its pursuit of a nuclear-free policy, said Kung, who is to serve as Cabinet secretary-general after the power transition next week.

“Authorities could revisit the issue if there is a change to the energy policy or the power mix,” he said at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee in Taipei.

If a majority of Taiwanese favor rule changes, the issue would be open for discussion, Kung said.

Taiwan’s current renewable energy output falls way behind the 20 percent target for next year, but the government would strive to bolster its contribution, NDC Deputy Minister Kao Shien-quey (高仙桂) said.

Coal and gas generated 77.6 percent of energy last year, while renewable energy accounted for 10.5 percent and nuclear power plants supplied 6.31 percent, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said in January.

Green energy sources would remain insufficient, because Taiwan’s economy grows rapidly and depends heavily on power-consuming technology firms to meet fast-growing global demand for artificial intelligence applications, Kao said.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract maker of advanced chips, consumes the bulk of electricity to fulfill orders from Apple Inc, Nvidia Corp, Intel Corp, Advanced Micro Devices Inc and other technology giants.

The EU counts nuclear power as a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels, with stiff safety and waste disposal requirements, meteorologist Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明), who is to be the new minister of environment, said during an online interview on Wednesday.

A high social consensus would be necessary for the incoming administration of president-elect William Lai (賴清德) to extend the service of existing nuclear power plants, as the move would contradict the stance of outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Peng said.

Electronics maker Pegatron Corp (和碩) chairman Tung Tzu-hsien (童子賢) during said that he used to oppose nuclear power, but had changed his stance, as the safety issue has become manageable due to technological progress.

Green energy farms also pose environmental hazards, but in a less evident manner, Tung said.

Tung had turned down Lai’s invitation to be premier after protest from his family, he said.

Source: The Taipei Times