Taiwan Nuclear Power Reduced, Taipower Restructures

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Nuclear Power Drops with Reactor Stoppage

Taiwan was given a trial run of the Democratic Progressive Party’s “nuclear-free homeland” policy as one by one, four of its six nuclear reactors went offline for various reasons. On December 26, one of the two 985-megawatt (MW) reactors at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant (NPP 2) in New Taipei City was temporarily shut down due to possible malfunctions with its control system.

In November last year the second reactor at the Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant (NPP 3) in Pingtung County was taken offline when loose bolts were discovered during routine maintenance, and the first reactor at Jinshan (NPP 1), also located in New Taipei City, has been down since loose handles were discovered on a fuel rod cask in December 2014. Although the problem at Jinshan has been addressed, the Atomic Energy Commission refuses to authorize restarting the reactor without approval from the legislature, which has declined to put the issue on the agenda. The second reactor at Jinshan is currently offline for scheduled maintenance.

Taiwan’s nuclear power plants typically supply over 18% of the island’s power needs, but that was briefly reduced to around 7% due to the number of reactors offline, forcing Taipower to ramp up power generation from coal-fired plants. On January 12, approval was given to Maanshan to restart the reactor, raising the proportion of power generated by nuclear reactors to over 10%.

Restructuring Plan for Taipower

The Taiwan Power Co. announced on January 4 that it will undergo its first corporate restructuring in 70 years. The state-owned monopoly, which operates all of Taiwan’s electricity grid and distribution networks and generates some 80% of Taiwan’s total electricity, is to be separated into four distinct divisions: conventional power generation, nuclear power generation, transmission, and distribution and service. Chairman Hwang Jung-chiou told the press that the restructuring is needed to “improve the firm’s efficiency” by clarifying each division’s obligations. Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng said the idea of privatizing one or more of the divisions will require further study.