By Huang Ya-chuan, Chu Tzu-wei and Frances Huang
Taipei, (CNA) ─ State-run utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) said Monday it would file an application with the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to restart the second reactor at the No. 2 nuclear power plant later in the day.
Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) said repair work on the second reactor at the No. 2 nuclear power plant in New Taipei was completed in December 2017. The company, which runs three nuclear power plants in the country, will now seek approval to resume operations. Hsu said if the reactor is allowed to restart, the No. 2 nuclear power plant will provide about 985,000 kilowatts in electricity supply, boosting Taipower’s operating power reserve margin — the percentage of generating capacity available to the power grid that can be called on within a short period of time — by 3 percent. He said the reactor’s return to operation would help Taipower achieve the Executive Yuan’s goal of an operating power reserve margin of 6.8 percent in 2018.
Due to requests by several government agencies to lower carbon emissions at a time of deteriorating air quality islandwide, Taipower has cut coal consumption at a coal-fired power plant in Taichung by 20 percent, while coal use has also been reduced at a plant in Kaohsiung. In addition, the operation of two power generators at Formosa Plastics Group’s coal-fired power station in Mailiao, Yunlin, has also been suspended for air pollution reasons.
According to Taipower, requests for lower carbon emissions are expected to reduce power supply in the country by 6.1 billion kilowatt-hours. The reactor had been under repair since the middle of 2016 due to a short circuit caused by problematic lightning conductors, according to the AEC.
The commission said it needs at least one month to process the Taipower’s application to restart the reactor before a hearing in the Legislative Yuan, which will ultimately determine the matter.
Although Taipower is seeking to resume the operation of the reactor, Hsu said the government’s goal of a “nuclear free homeland,” to be achieved by 2025 by phasing out the existing three nuclear power plants, which together supply about 17 percent of Taiwan’s energy needs, remains unchanged.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said Taipower has reported the application for the resumption of the reactor and he has conveyed the information to Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德). Currently, only three reactors of the six at Taiwan’s existing nuclear power plants are operating — the first reactor at the No. 2 nuclear power plant and two at the No. 3 nuclear plant.
According to the AEC, the first and second reactors at the No. 1 nuclear power plant are scheduled to be retired in December 2018 and July 2019, respectively, while the first and second reactors at the No. 2 nuclear power plant will go off-line in December 2021 and March 2023, respectively.
In addition, the first reactor and the second reactor at the No. 3 nuclear power plant will come to the end of their operational life in July 2024 and May 2025.