TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Wednesday Nov. 29, the Taichung city government ordered the Taichung power plant to reduce its use of coal by 24 percent starting in 2018.
The announcement came directly after the national EPA's Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control reported "unhealthy" levels of air pollution across much of central and western Taiwan on Nov. 29.
The mandated reduction for the Taichung power plant, which is the largest running coal-fired power station in the world, will begin in January 2018 and calls for the plant's annual consumption of coal to be reduced from 21 million tons to 16 million tons.
In an interview with CNA, a spokesperson for Taipower said the reduced coal consumption would result in about a 10 percent total reduction in electricity for the city over the course of the year, which is equal to about 2 percent of Taiwan's total annual power production.
The move is a timely one, in order to meet the drastic changes required by the central government's goal of reducing reliance on coal to 30 percent by the year 2025, a goal that will be difficult to achieve.
The recent concerns over air pollution and its negative impact on human health in Taiwan are another pressing reason for the Taichung City Government to address the massive quantities of coal that are being burned at the power plant.
However, the reduction will come with costs, and if the reduced energy supply is to be replaced with natural gas, the Taipower spokesperson estimated that operational costs will increase by nearly NT$ 3.9 billion to supply around 600 million tons of natural gas to meet demands.
The transition away from fossil fuels will be a difficult one for Taiwan, especially on the current timeline as proposed by the central government.
However, Taichung has been an exemplar in doing what needs to be done to make the switch, with several policies and initiatives in recent years to encourage a greener and cleaner living environment, including recent moves to reduce diesel powered buses for electric models and install more electric charging stations throughout the city.
Taichung Power Plant seen in clearer conditions (Image: Wikimedia Commons)