Taiwan's renewable goals clash with nuclear revival calls

Bryan Chuang, Taipei; Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Taipower

Over the past eight years, Taiwan's government has spearheaded an ambitious energy transition, boosting renewable energy generation by a striking 110% since 2016.

However, the arrival of a new administration has reignited the debate over nuclear power, with some advocates pushing for a revival of nuclear energy or extending the lifespan of existing plants. Cheng-Wen Wu, the newly appointed head of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), indicated that while he doesn't oppose nuclear energy personally, it requires broad societal consensus.

With the new government in place, nuclear energy has emerged as a pivotal issue for multiple ministries, including the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs(MOEA), and NSTC. Pegatron Chairman Tzu-Hsien Tung has consistently voiced his support for nuclear energy through various media channels, and business groups have echoed these calls.

A legislator recently underscored Taiwan's ambitious target of sourcing 60-70% of its energy from renewables. When questioned on the feasibility of this goal, Wu candidly responded, "It is very difficult." Pressed further on his stance on nuclear energy, Wu maintained that while he isn't opposed to it, any nuclear solution must be clean, safe, and backed by public support.

Minister of Economic Affairs JW Kuo is scheduled to present a report to the Legislative Yuan next week, addressing the contentious nuclear issue. Ministry officials have clarified that the RE100 initiative, which promotes 100% renewable energy, does not encompass nuclear power. They emphasized the government's commitment to a "nuclear-free homeland" and its green energy efforts remain steadfast.

MOEA highlighted the urgent need to meet the green electricity demands of Taiwan's supply chain, predicting a significant peak by 2030. Whether it's achieving the initial RE30 target (30% green electricity) or ensuring advanced manufacturing processes exclusively use green energy, the need is pressing. Green electricity is deemed essential for industrial exports. The Ministry's position is to comply with legal requirements regarding the operational lifespan and decommissioning of nuclear plants.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Shih-Kai Chen reiterated the unwavering goal of a nuclear-free homeland, framing it as a responsibility to the planet and future generations. The government aims to foster a stable economic development environment while ensuring a continuous and safe power supply and advancing green energy initiatives.