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Time needed to eliminate nuclear power: Ma

2013/09/26 20:50:00

President Ma Ying-jeou (right).

Taipei, Sept. 26 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou Thursday reaffirmed Taiwan's commitment to rid itself of nuclear energy, but said the country must diversify its power sources and pursue energy independence first.

Because of the difficulties involved in providing adequate power while maintaining reasonable electricity rates, the government needs to take its time developing clean energy alternatives before transitioning to a nuclear-free model of energy production, Ma said in a speech at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology.

Taiwan is not alone in its gradual approach, Ma said, pointing to estimates that nuclear energy will remain a major form of power production across the globe until the year 2040.

A total of 31 countries rely on nuclear energy, with 243 nuclear facilities either under construction or planned for the future, Ma said, citing the World Nuclear Association's research released this month.

Although countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Belgium have decided to terminate nuclear power supply within the next 11 to 23 years, most nations still consider it a dependable energy source, he said.

Nuclear power is a sharply divisive topic in Taiwan, with many voices calling for a "nuclear-free homeland" after Japan's Fukushima plant suffered multiple meltdowns resulting from an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Taiwan has three active nuclear power plants and a fourth nearing completion.

(By Kelvin Huang and Lee Hsin-Yin)