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Power plant lifespans depend on Nuke 4: Taipower

TAIPEI — If the under-construction fourth nuclear power plant cannot become operational due to opposition from the public, the service periods of the three existing nuclear plants will have to be extended, which will entail a cost of between NT$35 billion (US$1.16 billion) and NT$40 billion to renew equipment, the Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) said yesterday.

Taipower spokesman Tsai Fu-feng said that if the service is extended by 20 years, the three plants could generate 40 billion kWh of electricity per year, or 800 billion kWh in 20 years.

If other alternative energy resources are used to generate electricity, such as coal or natural gas, the cost could be NT$1.6 trillion, he said.

Tsai said that with thermal power plants heading for decommissioning in the coming years, there is a risk of power shortages by 2016, of which northern Taiwan would bear the brunt.

He said that if the fourth nuclear power plant is not brought online, other alternative energy resources will need to be found to fill the gap, and extending the service of the three existing plants is one possible option.

He noted that the two units of the fourth nuclear plant could generate around 19.3 billion kWh per year, while the electricity generated by the first, second and third plants is 9 billion kWh, 16 billion kWh and 15 billion kWh, respectively.

Considering that northern Taiwan is more likely to face electricity shortages, priority will be given to extending the service of the first and second nuclear plants, both of which are located in New Taipei, but the decision will be ultimately be based on government policy, he said.

The third nuclear power plant is located in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung County.

According to the Atomic Energy Council website, the two units of the No. 1 nuclear plant will expire in 2018 and 2019, respectively, while the two units in the second plant will expire in 2021 and 2023, and the two in the third plant in 2024 and 2025.

The application to extend service will need to be submitted five years before the expiration date. The extension service application for the No. 1 plant was submitted before the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan.

Meanwhile, Taipower estimated that despite electricity rate hikes last October, the company’s losses this year will amount to nearly NT$10 billion.

As of the end of March, the company had accumulated losses of NT$209.4 billion.

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