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Taiwan warn of huge price increase if nuclear is ditched

The Ministry of Economic Affairs warned that electricity prices could soar by 40 percent if the country abandoned nuclear power as its major electricity source.

If the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District is prevented from becoming operational, while the first and second nuclear power plants are retired, state-run Taiwan Power Co would have to increase electricity rates sharply to cope with the high costs of generating power by using coal or natural gas, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang said at the legislature, calling on lawmakers to be prepared for price increases when making decisions.

As nuclear power plants can generate electricity at a lower cost compared with thermal, wind or hydroelectric power farms and emit less CO2, it could be a better option to generate electricity, said Chai Fu-feng, chief nuclear energy engineer in Taipower’s power generation department.

“It is understandable that there are safety concerns from the public, but the company has invested heavily in building safety systems to prevent accidents,” Chai said.

Chai said that Taipower has completed about 95 percent of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant’s construction and about 63 percent of its equipment had begun test operations.

Asked when the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant could begin operating, Shih said Taipower will submit a timetable in the second half of this year.

Shih told said that the ministry plans to invest billions of dollars of its budget in the purchase of fuels for the new power plant’s reactors in the second half of this year.

That will be the last phase of Taipower’s investment in the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, after investing a total of NT$283.8 billion (US$9.79 billion) over the past few years, Shih said.

Taipower plans to submit reports to the Atomic Energy Council for operation of the new power plant by June, Taipower chairman Hwang Jung-chiou said

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