New units at Taichung Power Plant pass environmental assessment

01/20/2020 11:32 PM
CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 20 (CNA) The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Monday approved an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for two planned natural gas-fired generators, allowing the new units to be constructed at the Taichung Power Plant in central Taiwan, to increase the plant's electricity generating capacity under certain conditions.

The generators, which are expected to replace polluting coal-fired generators, will have an installed capacity totaling 2.6 million kilowatt, according to the power plant's operator, state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower).

The generators and related facilities will be built within existing land owned by the company, to avoid environmental impact, Taipower said.

Last October the project, which went through three EPA reviews between October 2018 and June 2019, was subjected to a fourth review and on Monday it was sent to the EIA meeting attended by economics officials, experts and environmental activists.

During the five-hour meeting, the environmental groups were not happy about the project, criticizing the power plant for failing to reduce its coal-powered generators and that "without doing so, it would be an expansion of the power plant."

Taichung's power plant has 10 coal-fired power generators. Its plan is to only use six of the generators after the two new natural gas generators are activated. It argues this will reduce the emission of air pollutants by 64 percent to 72 percent.

There were also experts at the meeting who expressed concerns that it would be a waste to burn natural gas to generate power as the raw material has more effective functions when used in the form of liquefied natural gas.

However, Deputy Economics Minister Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) said in the meeting that natural gas resources are fast and stable to operate.

He pledged that when operating the two new units, tighter standards will be applied to regulate the emission level of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.

Tseng also promised to implement stricter conditions to run the power plant's existing coal-fired units, setting a cap of 240 hours per year if the power plant operates more than six generators together, and restricting the power plant from operating more than 10 units (coal-fired and natural gas-fired) simultaneously.

Upon learning about the EPA's approval, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said it was totally unacceptable to allow the two units to pass the environment impact assessment.

The Taichung City government strongly objected to the ruling and has lodged a protest, she said.

The fossil fuel-dependent Taichung Power Plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world, was slapped with hefty fines last year for violations, including exceeding the maximum coal use permitted for the year and failing to cease the use of raw coal for power generation.

(By Hou Hsueh-ching, Chang Hsiung-feng and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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