KMT presidential contenders back continued use of nuclear power


(CNA photo)

All five contenders in the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT's) presidential primary advocated Wednesday for nuclear energy to remain one of the country's main sources of power, saying it should not be phased out by 2025 as the current administration is proposing.

Speaking during a televised forum, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said the continued use of nuclear power is important to Taiwan's future development.

If elected president, Han said, he will start the mothballed No. 4 nuclear power plant, as long as "it is safe to do so and I have the people's consent."

Han also said he plans to set a goal of increasing renewable energy to supply half of the country's power needs by 2035.

On his part, former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said that to ensure successful development of Taiwan's economy, the government must assure investors that there will be no power shortage in the country.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) goal of phasing out nuclear power by 2025 means renewable energy will have to be increased to supply one-fifth of the country's energy needs by then, Chu said.

As of 2018, however, renewable energy accounted for only 5 percent of the country's power supply, which clearly indicates that Taiwan cannot meet that nuke-free deadline in six years' time, as envisioned by the DPP, Chu said.

Also, phasing out nuclear power would mean greater reliance on coal-fired power plants, which are bad for people's health and could lead to lung diseases, he said.

Chu said that in the interest of Taiwan's economy and the people's health, if elected, he will activate the No. 4 nuclear power plant to make sure there will be no energy shortage in the country.

National Taiwan University political science professor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), former Taipei County Magistrate Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) also expressed similar views on nuclear power.

President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) DPP administration has set a goal of phasing out nuclear energy in Taiwan by 2025. To that end, an amendment to the Electricity Act was approved by the Legislative Yuan on Jan. 11, 2017, requiring all nuclear power operations to end by 2025.

In November 2018, however, the Taiwanese electorate voted in a referendum to support abolition of Paragraph 1 of Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which stipulates that "all nuclear energy-based power-generating facilities shall completely cease operations by 2025."

Despite the setback, the DPP has maintained that its 2025 goal remains unchanged.

Wednesday's TV presentation was the last of three televised forums organized by the KMT as part of its presidential primary. During the final forum in Taipei, the five candidates detailed their plans for the country in the areas of economic affairs, finance, the environment and energy.

The previous two presentations focused on constitutional politics, diplomacy, cross-Taiwan Strait affairs and national security; and youth, society, culture and education.

The forums will be followed by a series of public opinion polls July 8-14, after which the results will be released July 15, and the KMT's Central Standing Committee will announce the party's 2020 presidential candidate July 17.