Taiwan phases out nuclear phase-out law

Taiwan’s legislature voted this month (May) to remove a provision in the country’s electricity act that required closure of all its nuclear power plants by 2025.

The change implemented the results of a referendum in November 2018 in which a majority of the island nation’s population approved removing the nuclear phase-out clause.

The provision was added to the Electricity Act in 2017 to implement the phase-out promise of the Democratic Progressive Party when it came to power in 2016.

Advocates of the nuclear phase-out claim the change will not affect the government’s antinuclear policy. The minister of economic affairs, Shen Jong-chin, said in January Taiwan’s nuclear power units would be closed upon reaching the end of their service life and the unfinished Lungmen plant, with two units mothballed after 2014, would not be completed.

Taiwan’s four operational reactor units, located at two stations, will reach the end of their current 40-year licenses between 2021 and 2025. They provided about 12% of the country’s electricity, and about 8% of its total energy, in 2018. Two older reactors were permanently shut in 2018 after plans to extend their licenses fell victim to political opposition.

Management of waste from the plants has long been a challenge for Taiwan Power Company due to public opposition to disposal plans. This month, legislators replaced the phase-out provision in the electricity act with one calling for action on low-level waste disposal.

But nuclear advocates say the island, with a population of 24 million and an electricity-dependent industry, needs to keep nuclear plants online and even complete the two mothballed units to avert blackouts like the one that affected large parts of the country in 2017.

The advocates recently applied to authorities for a new referendum that would ask if voters agree to finish the Lungmen plant.

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