The 4th Nuclear Plant and the Energy Market in Taiwan

There’s a lot of protests ongoing in Taiwan regarding the 4th nuclear plant, and during a discussion this week I found myself challenged on arguments I had not verified. So I did some research based on official materials to give a basic background on Taiwan’s overall energy market. This is a long post, you’ll need a while to go through it! I am of course not an expert in the field of energy so please forgive -and correct- any inaccuracy.

461px-Electricity_Production_in_Taiwan.svg

To summarize:

1) Taiwan is highly dependent on imports to meet its energy needs, actually 97% of its energy comes from imports according to Taipower.

2) There is a strong dilemma between:

  • a) safety of operations when using nuclear energy vs. meeting targets of cutting carbon emissions when using coal and gas,
  • b) meet a fast growing demand and at the same time diversify supply by country and type of energy, while keeping low prices, as fossil energy keep getting more expensive and the Middle East gets unstable.

3) An order of idea: the 4th nuclear plant capacity is 2700MW, but just between 1998 and 1999, the overall installed capacity and demand has grown by more than 3000MW!

I think that Taiwan is NOT made to bear such a rapid growth, i.e. that the best way to address the problem would be to raise electricity costs and to strongly discourage polluting industries. Due to many uncertainties linked to nuclear energy, and the relatively small role it plays, I would also disengage from it. Sounds like an utopy though, since everyone just wants zero risk and maximum comfort…

Ready? let’s dig in the numbers. Wanna jump directly to a page, use one of the links below:

1. The Energy Market in Taiwan in 2012

2. Electricity Consumption 1992-2012: explosion of the Demand

3. Risks related to nuclear energy

4. Outlooks

5. Bibliography

5 thoughts on “The 4th Nuclear Plant and the Energy Market in Taiwan

  1. taipeir

    Nice work! Some bits still remain unclear to me (services and oil usage?) but overall we can see it’s industry that’s the key to reducing energy use, although there’s plenty of room in residential and transport to gain efficiency.

    Reply
    1. blf_taipei Post author

      Hi taipeir, thanks for your comment! Services refers to Taipower customers who are businesses by opposition to individuals and manufaturing facilities, if I understand correctly.
      For your question on oil usage, not too sure exactly what you mean?

      All in all industry is sure an important part of the equation, and that raises questions for which I have no answer: which are the most energy demanding industries in Taiwan and how much do they contribute to the national income? Can we get a top 10 of Taipower biggest customers, for example? Also, could there be separate tariffs in electricity prices for industries and individuals?

      I have just read today an interesting poll in Tianxia Magazine stating that people seem ready to carry the consequences of their ideas and accept if necessary power cuts, then only price hikes. They would also seemingly prefer having current nuclear plants run longer rather than open the 4th nuclear plant in Longmen. http://english.cw.com.tw/article.do?action=show&id=14755

      Reply
  2. mie

    In my opinion, people should devote at least as much time to opposing coal power as they do to opposing nuclear power. Coal smoke is killing heaps of people here and causing health problems to much larger part of the people; it’s not just theoretical, like the problems with nuclear power plants.
    Taiwan even has the largest coal plant in the world, which is also the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, but nobody seems to care: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taichung_Power_Plant

    Reply
    1. blf_taipei Post author

      When I looked at the documents it also became clear to me that the fantastic economic development of Taiwan comes at a cost, and that is the carbon footprint. This is why I would be in favor of degrowth and rationing of power both for individual and companies. Do you think Taiwanese people would accept that?

      Reply
  3. John Lysfjord

    Great analysis. For a next step you say “raise electricity costs and to strongly discourage polluting industries. ” How about doing both at the same time by introducing a carbon tax, like Korea have done?

    Reply

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