Taiwan will not face electricity shortages: economics minister

Economic Affairs Minister Shen Jong-chin attends an event in this file photo taken in November 2018. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan will not be vulnerable to shortages of electricity despite the government’s push for a non-nuclear homeland, Economic Affairs Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) reiterated on Feb. 11.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Lunar New Year gathering in Taipei, Shen said the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has drafted short- and long-term plans that will ensure stable power supply.

His assurance of adequate electricity supplies came after the ministry issued an updated national energy policy that maintained the government’s position on nuclear energy at the end of January.

It said Taiwan’s nuclear power plants will be decommissioned as scheduled by 2025, and the fourth nuclear power plant project, which was close to completion before being mothballed in 2015, will not be restarted.

“There will be no extension or restarting of nuclear power plants in Taiwan, due to subjective and objective conditions, as well as strong public objections,” Shen said at a news conference on Jan. 31, just prior to the start of a nine-day Lunar New Year holiday break.

The MOEA was forced to reconsider its energy policy after Taiwanese voted in a referendum on Nov. 24, 2018, by a 60-40 margin to eliminate a provision in the Electricity Act requiring all nuclear-energy-based power-generating facilities to cease to operate by 2025.

The vote, in effect, left the door open for nuclear power in the future, but Shen and his ministry decided not to change the government’s non-nuclear homeland policy.

Shen’s announcement on Jan. 31 raised concerns among many industrialists that Taiwan could struggle to meet its power needs without the ability to generate nuclear power, which has accounted for up to 20 percent of Taiwan’s generated power over the past decade.

Responding to these concerns, Shen said Monday that the government remains committed to maintaining a reserve margin of 15 percent and an operating reserve margin of 10 percent, electricity levels that would ensure a stable power supply.

The economic minister did not elaborate on how the government intends to carry out such a plan, however, except to say that the MOEA will discuss the matter with a number of local business representatives on Tuesday.

By Liao Yu-yang and Ko Lin