People in Taiwan lack knowledge about energy issues: survey

Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Energy transition is an issue of concern among 82.6 percent of Taiwan’s public, but most do not know the make-up of the nation’s energy mix, with 43.6 percent mistakenly believing nuclear energy to be the main source of electricity generation, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday.

Questioned about the main source of Taiwan’s electricity mix, only 32 percent correctly answered coal-fired power, which accounted for 46.8 percent of electricity generation last year, while nuclear energy provided only 8.3 percent.

The survey was conducted by the Risk Society and Policy Research Center (RSPRC) of National Taiwan University June 23-July 8 to gauge the public’s awareness of energy policies and support for Taiwan’s energy transition.

With the goal of making Taiwan nuclear-free, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has targeted a mix of 50 percent natural gas, 30 percent coal and 20 percent renewables for its electricity supply by 2025 after nuclear power is phased out.

A Nov. 24 referendum vote that scrapped the 2025 goal of decommissioning nuclear power previously stipulated in article 95-1 of the Electricity Act has raised concerns that it might set back the process of energy transition from nuclear to renewable energy.

In line with the referendum results, the Tsai administration proclaimed Tuesday that the article lost efficacy since Dec. 2, pending final approval by the Legislature, and also promised to present a new energy policy in two months.

“The survey shows that the government needs to improve public understanding of energy issues to earn public support for its energy transition plan,” Chang Kuo-hui (張國暉), executive head of the RSPRC, said at a forum during which the results were released.

According to the survey, about 57 percent of the respondents said they were not clear about the Tsai administration’s renewable target for 2025, while only 40.7 percent said they were aware of the policy, Chang said.

The survey also found that 80 percent of the respondents are willing to pay more for electricity in order to better protect the environment and lower the risks associated with the use of nuclear power, or reduce energy consumption.

Only 20 percent of the respondents said they were against any price increases in electricity prices under any circumstances.

Asked about willingness to pay more to support replacing nuclear energy with green energy, 60.7 percent responded positively, while 35.1 percent were opposed.

The results indicate that the public are concerned about Taiwan’s energy transition and are willing to share energy-related information, but the level of accuracy of their knowledge about related issues is not high, the RSPRC said in a statement.

“We call upon the government to provide a clearer energy transition pathway and to engage in dialogue with society so as to enhance the trust that the public have toward energy reform,” the statement said.