Blackout sign of Taiwan’s fragile power system: experts

The power disruption not only underscores the problem in the operation but also implies a long-term power shortage crisis

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In the wake of yesterday's massive nationwide power blackout, a group of experts suggest a revision of the power system to avoid any repeat of yesterday's incident and provide solutions to the challenge of electricity shortages during sweltering summertime temperatures.

In response to Tuesday's power outage, which has been attributed to minor human error at Taoyuan City's Tatan Power Station (Datan, 大潭電廠) , some scholars have expressed varying opinions toward the two current power-related challenges Taiwan faces: disruption and shortage.

Hung Shen-han (洪申翰), deputy secretary-general of the Green Citizens' Action Alliance, said Tuesday's sudden blackout accentuated the fragility of the existing power system and any further errors could collapse the entire power grid. 

It is essential for the state-run companies Taiwan Power Corporation (Taipower,台電) and CPC Corp. (中油) began to reform their "concentrative" (centralized) power generating and supply network into a "scattering" (distributed) power generating and supply system, he said.

Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), the founder of the pro-nuclear energy organization Nuclear MythBusters (核能流言終結者), said Tuesday's widespread power outage was due mainly to the lack of sufficient electricity reserves, "If we had higher levels of power reserves, we would be able to shut down the whole Tatan plant now for a complete check and maintenance," Huang added. He also advised policy makers to take notice of the serious power supply problems facing the nation. 

Lin Por-fong (林伯豐), chairman of the Taipei-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC), and other industry leaders also advised the government to accept the nation faces a power shortage and reconsider the use of nuclear power instead of pursuing its "nuclear-free homeland" project at any cost.

Additionally, the president of the Taiwan Research Institute Wu Tsai-Yi (吳再益) suggests Taipower (台電) should consider buying backup electricity that its customers save during peak demand periods via bidding. This way Taipower can suppress the electricity usage and the customers who win bids will save money. Moreover, they can also alternate electricity prices based on power demand to reduce the over-consumption of electricity.

It is reported that yesterday's power outage was the third and largest case of the year so far. The incident occurred when a worker at Tatan Power Plant in Taoyuan, mistakenly shut off a natural gas supply valve for two minutes, causing all six generators at the plant to shut down and cutting Taiwan's electricity supply by more than 4 million kilowatts of power.

Five hours after the power crisis began, Taipower announced the restoration of electricity across Taiwan at 9:40 p.m. on Tuesday. However, the incident led to the resignation of Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung (李世光).