Taiwan will face power shortage if it scraps nuclear power: Ma

11/22/2013 09:14 PM
President Ma Ying-jeou inspects the fourth nuclear power plant in June. (CNA file photo)
President Ma Ying-jeou inspects the fourth nuclear power plant in June. (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) Taiwan will face electricity shortages if its fourth nuclear power plant is shelved and its three operating plants are decommissioned, President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday.

Such a shortage would cause huge damage to Taiwan's economic development and livelihood, Ma said in response to a question on the controversial fourth nuclear power plant at a meeting with foreign correspondents in Taipei.

Taiwan currently relies on imports for 98 percent of the energy it uses, the president said, making nuclear energy, which supplies 18.4 percent of Taiwan's electricity need, an important energy source.

Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011, Taiwan's government has made a concerted effort to further ensure the safety of nuclear power plants in Taiwan, hoping to avoid such disasters, Ma said.

Taiwan remains committed to the goal of gradually becoming a nuclear-free homeland and it is part of the country's energy policy, Ma said, but it is not something that can be achieved immediately.

"We have to make sure that our power supply wouldn't be affected and that we can still meet our goal of reducing carbon emissions," he said.

Taiwan currently operates three nuclear power plants, two in New Taipei and the other in Pingtung County, that are around three decades old.

They provide about 20 percent of the country's electricity at present but are scheduled to be decommissioned beginning in 2018.

The construction of the controversial fourth power plant has stretched over 14 years and cost taxpayers some NT$300 billion (US$10 billion) to date. It is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Over 6.5 million people, or about a third of Taiwan's population, live within 80 kilometers of the plant's site in New Taipei.

(By James Lee)ENDITEM/ls

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