Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nukes or Blackouts!

The pro-nuke side is pushing nuclear power, and threatening blackouts within three years. Been there, done that, the first time around. Bloomberg reports:
China's missiles may not be the biggest danger to Taiwan. An impending power shortage could cause blackouts within three years and weaken the nation's economy.

Power production is failing to keep pace with demand because of a ban on new nuclear plants and delays in completing projects already underway, says Jeffrey Bor, a fellow at the Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research, which advises the government.

"The chance of large-scale blackouts is quite high," he says. "Defense against missiles should be of lower importance because the chance of an attack is slim."

President Chen Shui-bian's government has ignored long-term economic planning because of his drive to secure Taiwan's formal independence from China, says political scientist Yang Tai- shuenn. Power supply disruptions may accelerate the exodus of Taiwanese manufacturers, who already fill more than 40 percent of their export orders through overseas factories.

There are a couple of good hacks on President Chen which anyone can recognize as pro-forma Blue propaganda. Threats of blackouts are the usual tactic whenever the nuke side wants to advance their cause, used back when the plant was first proposed (needless to say, no nightmare blackout scenario occurred).

In 2000 when the DDP came to power it proposed phasing out the nuke plant, but the KMT was committed to nukes and threatened to have Chen recalled over the issue. The DPP wanted to emphasize natural gas, but then natural gas prices skyrocketed, making that choice expensive and the DPP look foolish.

Is the government not focused on Taiwan's needs for energy? Here's a picture I took in Hsinchu last year:

There are wind power plants all over the island. I haven't see many good figures on wind energy here, but it is my understanding that Taiwan has enough wind potential to supply its own needs, especially once offshore wind is factored in. Fortunately the Bloomberg reporter, despite the provocative and misleading headline, did go out and get the government's side, pointing out that the government is investing in renewables. Jeffrey Bor, the researcher cited in the article, has long pushed nukes for CIER.

The energy issue is a case of a genuine policy difference between the two parties that the DPP should be exploiting more. ITRI has a page on wind (Chinese, not so good) and a short precis in Anglais on wind in Taiwan.


Anonymous said...

I would have thought the issue is not just about power production but shifting a culture so intent on energy wastage.

Michael Turton said...

You'd think that, but energy conservation is totally off the radar here. That's why they are demanding nukes and more nukes....


Anonymous said...

Nice pic! I used to take the train to work in Hsinchu and was surprised to see all the wind power there and in Jhunan. I've been down to Chang Hwa Industrial Park and saw windmills on the coast there as well.

Do you know if that's a nuclear plant next to Tunghsiao resort in Miaoli County? A friend took me out there a while back. It's a decent beach, but having those stacks so close to the resort is a little unnerving. It always reminds me of Mad Max.

I'd much rather gaze at a field of overgrown pinwheels!


Anonymous said...

A lot of people can only concieve of meeting increasing demand for electricity by increasing supply (i.e. building new power plants). Actually managing demand is often much cheaper and in the long term essential as we cannot continue to rely on either fossil fuels or nuclear power.

There are plans for more development of windfarms, particularly offshore and on Penghu with an undersea cable to Taiwan. There was a good article about this in the newspaper earlier this week.

Michael Turton said...

Spencer, it's a thermal plant.

David, thanks for the link.


Anonymous said...

Cheers! I guess I can still swim out there.

Nice article too. So now we have 103 turbines on the island? Man that's a lot. And they're planning to add 546 more?

Taiwan should get more credit for such environmental advancements.


TC said...

We could save a huge amount of energy just by including rules on minimum store/office air conditioning temperatures and keeping store doors closed in the summer. There's no need for another nuclear plant.

Anonymous said...

"it is my understanding that Taiwan has enough wind potential to supply its own needs"

Michael, your understanding is wrong. I've commented before, and again, you absolutely CANNOT be 100% reliant on renewables, if renewables means sun and wind. Because of fluctuations in power output, at most, wind may be able to take care of 20%. That's a lot and would solve the one more nuke plant problem, but the grid can't handle maybe more than 20% of wind output. After that, think of ways to fill up the rest.