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Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs defends new coal-fired plant

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World Coal,

A statement released by the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs has strongly defended the controversial Shenao Power Plant, arguing that its operation is essential to the government reaching its 2025 power reserve margin target.

The nation’s electricity reserve margin would fall further from this year’s 7.1% if new-generation capacity is not brought online, the economy ministry said.

The government would not be able to reach the power reserve margin target it set for 2025 if fails to commence operations at the coal-fired Shenao Power Plant as scheduled, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. Taiwan is likely to see a power shortfall by 2025, as the reserve margin is expected to decline 1.4% if the plant does not come online in July that year, the ministry said in a statement. The government aims to improve the margin to 15% after next year from 7.1% this year by accelerating construction of several power plant projects, including upgrading the Shenao plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District.

Upgrading the plant would guarantee a stable power supply and improve energy efficiency, the ministry said, adding that the facility’s lower heating value — its efficiency taking into account the energy lost as water evaporates during combustion — is forecast to grow to 45% from 38% after the upgrades are completed. Upgrades at the coal-fired Linkou Power Plant in New Taipei City are finished, the ministry said, adding that it would strike a balance between efficiency and environmental protection when upgrading the Shenao plant. With more advanced equipment, the facility would be capable of reducing sulfur oxide and nitric oxide emissions, it added.

The ministry’s remarks came after the plant passed an environmental impact assessment on Wednesday; the decision provoked a backlash from environmental groups concerned about worsening air quality in northern Taiwan. Environmental groups consider the Shenao plant upgrades to constitute a new construction project, as the facility has been mothballed since 2007, local Chinese-language media reported. Activists believe the government should instead invest more in developing renewable energy resources, rather than generating coal-based energy. The ministry said it assessed the possibility of replacing coal with natural gas at the Shenao plant, but the site does not have the space required to store the fuel.

Despite the government’s goal of generating 20% of Taiwan’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025, the ministry said it still needs to partly rely on coal-generated energy to ensure a stable energy supply. Taiwan is vulnerable to fluctuations in global energy prices, as it imports nearly 98% of its fuel, the ministry said. Coal-generated energy is seen as a more stable energy resource compared with renewable sources, as coal can be stored for 30 days, it added.

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