Anti-Nuclear Climate Inaction: Taiwan

As of 2012 Taiwanese annual electricity demand was 250 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), an average somewhere in excess of ten thousand kWh per capita. Non-combustion sources delivered 20% of this, of which the Chinsheng, Kuosheng and Maanshan nuclear plants comprised 16%. Although earthquakes are not uncommon in this part of the world, the reactors have proven resilient.

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Of what remains, the Taichung coal station generates a substantial fraction. It is also apparently among the most polluting coal plants in the world. This site reports an output of 39 billion kWh and well over 36 million tons of CO2 in 2009 (expecting substantial increase). If there are any street protests against this in Taiwan, they don’t get reported abroad.

Taichung coal power station (photo credit)

Taichung coal power station (photo credit)

In 2014 intense anti-nuclear activism forced the government to halt the Lungmen nuclear plant project before it could be commissioned. Lungmen consists of twin Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs), the same “generation III” design which was delivered very competitively for units 6 and 7 at Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, and which has remained intact, as designed, through several major earthquakes, and with satisfactory inspection by the IAEA.

With a total net capacity of 2600 MW, Lungmen stood to provide an annual average of 20.5 billion kWh (at assumed 90% capacity factor).

Taiwanese politics is obviously complex, but the essential result of the post-Touhoku earthquake anti-nuclear frenzy was perpetuation of the status quo. Lungmen could effectively abate over half of Taichung’s emissions if it were to replace its generating capacity. Despite construction uncertainty, delays and resulting cost overruns, replacing massive chunks of fossil fuel use IS action on climate.

Maanshan Nuclear Plant, Taiwan.

Lack of effectual challenge to the anti-nuclear narrative of exceptional danger and threatening fear might as well be climate inaction.

 

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