Taiwan open to canning coal power plant reopening: Premier

William Lai says reopening of Shenao coal power plant will be reviewed if liquid gas proves able to meet energy demand

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Premier William Lai

Premier William Lai (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwan government is open to shelving the planned reopening of the Shenao coal-fired power plant (深澳電廠), if a planned liquefied natural gas terminal in Taoyuan City passes an environmental assessment, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said on Oct. 5, reported CNA.

Lai said that if the new gas terminal goes ahead, and if gas can prove to generate sufficient power to meet demand, the government would reassess its energy policy, during questioning in the Legislative Yuan (立法院).

Lai was responding to a question by Democratic Progressive Party legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), who asked if the Shenao plant could be debated further due to concerns about the how the coal-powered plant ties in with the government’s green energy policies.

The third liquefied natural gas terminal will be considered on the basis of an environmental impact assessment, which is scheduled for government review on Oct. 8. Construction of the new terminal has already been delayed, due to setbacks during the environmental assessment.

Lai said the Ministry of Economic Affairs (經濟部) would conduct a fresh feasibility study of the Shenao plant, if gas-powered electricity can meet demand.

Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台灣電力公司) spokesperson Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) said they would reconsider their energy supply if the LNG terminal project in Taoyuan City goes through, reported CNA.

Spokesperson for Taiwan’s state-owned gas company CPC Corporation (台灣中油) Huang Jen-hung (黃仁弘) told CNA that it is “not impossible” to increase gas-generated power to meet demand, although there are a range of problems outstanding.

The Shenao power plant was built in 1960 and decommissioned in 2007. To meet growing demand, the state-owned Taipower announced plans to expand and reopen the plant in 2017. The plant is expected to reopen in 2025, in time for the decommissioning of last of Taiwan’s nuclear power plants.

The Shenao project has seen opposition from civil society groups and others, based on concerns spanning the environment and impact on local residents.

Taiwan’s New Energy Policy aims to accelerate development of renewable energy generation and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this plan, the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration plans to phase out nuclear power, and increase renewable energy generation to account for 20% of total energy production by 2025.