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Taiwan assessing economic costs without 4th Nuclear Power Plant

2013/02/26 20:02:04

Taipei, Feb. 26 (CNA) The Ministry of Economic Affairs said Tuesday that it is assessing the impact on Taiwan's electricity rates and economy of a possible halt to construction of the controversial 4th Nuclear Power Plant.

If the power plant does not begin commercial operations, coal and natural gas will be the possible alternatives for electricity generation, the ministry said a day after the Cabinet announced that it is willing to accept a referendum on whether to scrap the nuclear plant currently under construction in New Taipei.

Electricity supplies are expected to become tighter in 2015 when two generators each at the Talin thermal power plant in Kaohsiung and at the Linkou thermal plant in New Taipei go offline.

If the No. 4 nuclear power plant does not become operational, it will push the power reserve capacity ratio down to 7.4 percent, far lower than the legal requirement of 15 percent, according to the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), which operates the country's nuclear power plants.

Furthermore, if the No. 4 plant does not go into operation, northern Taiwan will face power rationing from 2019, when the No. 1 nuclear plant becomes fully decommissioned and the No. 2 plant becomes totally phased out by 2023, according to Taipower.

According to previous Taipower estimates, electricity rates will rise NT$0.38 (US$0.012) per kilowatt hour (kWh) if natural gas-fueled plants are used instead of the No. 4 nuclear power plant.

The cost of power generation each year will increase by NT$271.8 billion if Taiwan does away completely with nuclear power and replaces all four nuclear plants with new natural gas-fueled plants from 2026, according to earlier ministry estimates.

By that time, these added costs are forecast to lead to a 40 percent increase in electricity prices per kWh, the estimates show.

In terms of economic impact, Taipower has estimated that the increased prices will cost Taiwan NT$60.8 billion in gross domestic product in the first year the increase takes effect.

In addition to a projected fall in consumer spending, investment and exports, the electricity price increase will put an additional 28,000 people out of work, according to Taipower.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Scully Hsiao)
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