04.02.2019_No24 / News in Brief

Despite Referendum, Taiwan Intends To Go Ahead With Nuclear Phaseout

Policies & Politics

4 Feb (NucNet): Taiwan will maintain its goal of abolishing nuclear power by May 2025, despite the outcome of last November’s referendum that required the removal of an article of legislation calling for all six nuclear reactors on the island to be closed.

That article was subsequently repealed, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs has now published a revised national energy strategy affirming the government’s intention to abolish nuclear, and calling for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.

According to economic minister Shen Jong-chin, Taiwan will not extend the life of existing nuclear power plants nor restart construction of two new units at Lungmen, where work was halted following the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident in Japan. Two of four planned units were almost completed at the time the project was discontinued.

Mr Shen said resistance from local governments, difficulty in maintaining Taiwan’s ageing reactors, a lack of storage space for spent fuel, and a failure to complete an application to extend an agreed decommissioning deadline with the Atomic Energy Commission make it impossible for Taiwan to continue with nuclear energy.

The Taiwan News said the move is likely to cause consternation among proponents of the referendum, support for which garnered almost six million signatures, equivalent to 59% of the vote. Pro-nuclear activists have said they will hold another referendum on the issue in 2020 if the government fails to restart non-operational reactors.

Taiwan has four nuclear power reactors in commercial operation at two sites – Kuosheng and Maanshan. According to data by the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear provided about 9% of Taiwan’s electricity output in 2017.

Chinshan, Taiwan’s third nuclear power station, has two units which were permanently shut down in December, according to the IAEA.

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