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Nuke 1-3 need extension if Nuke 4 scrapped: Duh

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- If the public ultimately decides to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the service period of the three existing nuclear plants will have to be extended to counter a possible power shortage, a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official said yesterday.

Fielding questions during a committee meeting on nuclear safety at the Legislature, Deputy Economic Minister Duh Tyzz-Jiun (杜紫軍) said that viable alternative energy sources will need to be found in order to fill the gap if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant does not become operational.

Building new thermal power plants in Northern Taiwan could take at least 10 years before they can become operational, Duh said.

Therefore, in order to meet electricity demand, he noted that it is a must to extend the service of the three existing plants.

According to Duh, there is a risk that Taiwan will face a power shortage as soon as 2016 if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is scrapped.

In response to criticism from opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers during yesterday's meeting, the deputy minister explained that the administration is not threatening the public.

He also said that alternative energy sources, such as solar energy, will be unable to counter the power shortage caused by a nuclear power phase-out.

Fielding questions at the same meeting, Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) Chairman Huang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said that there is a risk Taiwan will face energy rationing by 2021 if all three existing nuclear power plants are decommissioned and if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is scrapped.

Many Countries Still Developing Nuclear Power

During the same meeting yesterday, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said that a total of 31 countries around the world have nuclear power plants.

The 31 countries comprise 62 percent of the world's population and more than 75 percent of global gross domestic product, the minister said, adding that more than 90 percent of these 31 countries are still developing nuclear power, including the U.S., Russia and Japan.

The Japanese government approved an energy plan earlier this month that backs the use of nuclear power, despite public anxiety following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Among the 31 countries with nuclear power plants in operation, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland have announced a nuclear power phase-out to be carried out in 11 to 23 years, Lin said.

The meeting was held amid former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's (林義雄) ongoing hunger strike.

An iconic anti-nuclear power figure in Taiwan, Lin began his hunger strike on Monday, highlighting his demand that Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant be scrapped for safety reasons.

The power plant is currently under construction in New Taipei City's Gongliao District (貢寮).

An anti-nuclear rally is also scheduled to take place in downtown Taipei this coming Saturday.

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