Taipei, May 20 (CNA) Economics Affairs Minister Shih Yen-shiangsaid Friday the government has decided not to extend the service ofthe first nuclear power plant beyond 2019.
If power supply is okay, the minister said, the government mayeven move ahead the dates of retiring the existing three nuclearpower plants.
Taiwan has three power plants currently in operation, and isbuilding a fourth.
During a meeting with the media, Shih said Taiwan Power Company,which operates the nuclear power plants, has asked the Atomic EnergyCouncil (AEC) to stop screening its application for extending thefirst nuclear power plant's service.
The two reactors inside the plant are scheduled to stop runningin 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Shih said the government will put forth a new energy policy byJuly which will outline a gradual reduction in the nation's relianceon nuclear energy.
The Basic Environment Act stipulates that Taiwan must eventuallyget rid of its nuclear power plants.
"The government will govern according to the law and abide by thelaw, but how long it will take to realize the goal of 'nuclear-freehomeland' is still under discussion," said the minister.
Based on the current pace of economic development and energyneeds, Taiwan will face power shortages in the coming seven to eightyears, he said. But the government will come up with counter-measuresto ensure that there will be no need to implement power rationing.
As for the fourth nuclear power plant, he said construction willcontinue and international experts will be called in to make sure itsoperations are safe before it actually starts generating power.
In the meantime, green energy will be developed to make up forthe shortfalls caused by possible deactivation of reactors at theother three plants, he said.
As industry uses up more than 50 percent of the nation'selectricity, an overhaul of the nation's industrial structure is alsoa must, Shih said.
Low energy-consuming industries will be encouraged, he said. Asfor what kind of incentives, he said "more analysis will be done toanswer this question."
(By Lin Shu-yuan and S.C. Chang)