Government urged to guarantee power supply after referendum defeats

12/19/2021 03:48 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) The government should step up efforts on green energy development in line with global trends and meet the increasing demand for electricity from businesses in Taiwan, a business representative and academic suggested Sunday.

The suggestions were made after two referendum initiatives challenging the Democratic Progressive Party government's energy policy failed to pass in a national vote on four referendum questions on Saturday.

The questions asked whether Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be unsealed and whether a liquefied natural gas terminal project off the coast of Taoyuan should be relocated to avoid destroying an algal reef that has been around for thousands of years.

Both measures lost by narrow margins in terms of the vote count, but turnout was too low to meet the threshold required for passage even if "yes" votes outnumbered "no" votes.

The government has set a policy of phasing out nuclear power by 2025 and set a goal of an electricity mix of 50 percent natural gas, 30 percent coal and 20 percent renewables.

Lin Por-fong (林伯豐), chairperson of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, said energy remains a thorny issue facing Taiwan as the country will find it difficult to generate 20 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

In addition, even if the country reaches its 50 percent natural gas goal by 2025, natural gas is a fossil fuel that emits substantial amounts of carbon, and the price of natural gas is soaring, he said.

Taiwan state-owned CPC Corp. could lose NT$400 billion (US$14.35 billion) this year because of the rising price of natural gas, the company estimated in mid-November.

Meanwhile, Hsu Shu-po (許舒博), the president of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, said demand for power from business will likely increase, and "what we care about is whether stable electricity supply can be guaranteed," regardless of the referendum results.

There are many methods to meet power consumption, such as increasing the share of renewable energy in the electricity sector, said Lee Yu-chia (李育家), head of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Chang Chien-yi (張建一), president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said it was imperative for Taiwan to ratchet up development of green energy in view of the rising future demand for energy.

The government should publish a report on the path to net-zero emissions as soon as possible to allow the public and businesses to adapt to the guidelines.

It should also study the feasibility of launching a carbon emissions trading market aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, given that the European Union will introduce a carbon border tax on imports of carbon-intensive products in the near future, Chang said.

In addition, he suggested that the government should invest in carbon capture technology research and development to accelerate Taiwan's transition to sustainable energy.

Turning to Taiwan's energy development, Chang added that natural gas produces fewer carbon emissions than coal or oil and is therefore suitable for use as a "bridge fuel," a fossil fuel that can help reduce emissions.

(By Tseng Chih-yi, Tsai Peng-min and Evelyn Kao)

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