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Generators to wear down in Taiwan

Electricity usage increases and the wear down of generators may soon outpace new electricity generation, making power outages all the more likely in 2019, the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台電) warned on Thursday.

The increase in electricity use will be a result of rapid economic growth. With a 3.32-percent annual growth from 2015 to 2026, the nation’s electricity use is projected to grow by 1.9 percent every year, Taipower said.

Given a positive outlook on the nation’s economic growth, Taipower believes electricity reserve margin — the generating capacity to meet short-term demand — will go down year by year.

Taipower forecast that starting from 2018, the reserve margin will stay below 10 percent for an extended period of time, increasing the chance of mandatory power restriction.

After the First Nuclear Power Plant retires in 2019, the reserve margin will dive to 4.8 percent. The fall below the 7.4-percent threshold is in fact two years earlier than Taipower’s previous forecast.

Past experience shows that with a reserve margin under 7.4 percent, at least one power outage will be imposed per year.

If the nation’s nuclear power plants retire as scheduled, the reserve margin will fall to below zero value in 2023 and 2024, at -1.6 percent and -3 percent, respectively, Taipower forecast.

New and Old Generators

Taipower has planned power facility expansion in Linkou (林口) in New Taipei City, Dalin (大林) in Chiayi and Tongxiao (通霄) in Miaoli. Their construction is expected to be completed by 2020, generating 6.68 million kilowatts of additional power.

More facilities are planned in Tatan (大潭) in Taoyuan, and other places, which can produce 7.1 million kilowatts of power by the time they are completed in 2026.

Together with renewable energy being planned that is forecast to produce 6.56 million kilowatts of power, the new generators being planned will churn out 20.34 million kilowatts in total for the nation.

In regards to generator wear down, Talin Power Plant’s (大林電廠) generators and three nuclear power plants will retire in 10 years, reducing the supply by 10.28 million kilowatts.

According to Taipower’s prediction, the peak power usage will reach 43.01 million kilowatts in 2026, from 34.82 million kilowatts in 2014.

A Call to Tap New Energy Sources

Roger Lee (李鴻洲), vice president of Taipower, said the mandatory power restriction is more likely to be imposed in Northern Taiwan, since the area consumers 40 percent of the nation’s power.

With an unsuccessful project launch to generate new power, Northern Taiwan has relied on Central and Southern Taiwan for additional power, Lee said.

Wang Jhen-yong (王振勇), an officer in charge of power generation with Taipower, said the forecast was made on the basis that the government will not introduce effective energy conservation measures or explore renewable energy sources.

Power outages will be inevitable when the electricity reserve margin arrives at negative values; however, this may not occur if the government carries out conservation measures while tapping new energy sources, Wang said

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