REFERENDUMS 2021/Global popularity of nuclear power declining: NGOs

11/23/2021 04:25 PM
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Photo courtesy of Greenpeace
Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

Taipei, Nov. 23 (CNA) Several environmental groups on Tuesday rejected one of the arguments recently made by supporters of nuclear power, calling it an energy option that is not as popular worldwide as local nuclear advocates have argued ahead of an upcoming referendum.

Nuclear energy's share of global gross electricity generation continues its slow but steady decline from a peak of 17.5 percent in 1996 to a share of 10.1 percent in 2020, the Green Citizens' Action Alliance said, citing a recent global report.

According to the latest edition of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report, which was released by Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based analyst and consultant on energy and nuclear policy, nuclear power generation also decreased in 2020 -- for the first time since 2012 -- by 104 terawatt-hours (TWh) or 3.9 percent.

Further, the report pointed out that the utility-scale of solar energy costs came down 90 percent and wind 70 percent, while new nuclear costs increased by 33 percent between 2009 and 2020.

"Nuclear energy is getting marginalized in emerging electricity markets worldwide," said alliance researcher Chen Shih-ting (陳詩婷) at a press conference in Taipei, calling the pro-nuclear campaign for a referendum seeking to unseal Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant "misleading."

Nuclear advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), who initiated the campaign for the public vote, said at a referendum forum earlier this month that nuclear energy, like renewable energy, has received global recognition as a key power source that reduces carbon emissions generated by coal burning.

Also voicing opposition to nuclear power development on Tuesday was the local branch of international environmental organization Greenpeace, with its representative Ku Wei-mu (古偉牧) calling it "slow, expensive, troublesome and unreliable."

At a separate press conference in Taipei, Ku said among 93 nuclear power reactors across the world on which construction was suspended over the past 50 years, work restarted on only seven.

The average construction period for those seven reactors was 118 months, with an average cost of NT$85.5 billion (US$3 billion), he said, citing studies from the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Nuclear Association.

Ku said Greenpeace and other environmental groups will hold a march against nuclear energy on Dec. 4 ahead of the referendum on Dec. 18.

Other NGOs in Taichung-- including the Housemakers United Foundation's Taichung branch, Cosmopolitan Culture Action Taichung, and Medical Professionals Alliance in Taichung -- urged the country to continue on the path to being nuclear-free and voiced concern over the safety of nuclear power.

They also asked local government heads across Taiwan to make public their position on the issue of reactivating the fourth nuclear power plant, with Taichung City government responding that it will respect the choice of the people.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng, Hau Hsueh-chin and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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