Nuclear energy is better than blackouts – Taiwan’s lesson for South Korea

Press Release Issue Date: 23 August 2017

The Taiwanese government has allowed ideology to undermine public wellbeing by keeping nuclear capacity offline at a time when the country is struggling with power shortages. On 16 August half of Taiwan was affected by a blackout – some 6.6 million households and businesses – after an unplanned shutdown at a gas plant took the country’s fragile electricity system over the edge. Yet the government is standing by its policy of phasing out nuclear by 2025 and using existing reactors as little as possible, with three reactors offline due to political blocking and another virtually complete two-unit nuclear power plant forbidden from starting up.1

Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association commented, “Blackouts clearly pose far greater safety risks to the people of Taiwan than the responsible use of nuclear energy. A modern society depends upon a reliable supply of electricity”. The blackout caused major disruptions, with reports of people trapped in lifts and many others deprived of the use of air conditioning in sweltering heat.2

“The Taiwanese government should look at the best available data on the impacts of different energy sources in determining a sustainable mix,” Rising continued. “It’s clear that nuclear energy has the best safety record of any major form of electricity generation”.3

While the direct cause of the blackout was a failure at a gas power plant, the contributing factors cannot be ignored. There are undeniable problems with Taiwan’s energy strategy and in particular its nuclear restrictions and phase out. Nuclear power plants are capable of operating very reliably and at low cost. They add diversity to the mix and strengthen security of supply. These are the exact qualities that a hi-tech manufacturing economy needs if it wishes to maintain its competitive advantage.

“South Korea has been given a glimpse of what its future may look like if it goes down the path of copying Taiwan’s energy strategy. It is not too late to avoid this mistake,” Rising said, referring to the new South Korean president’s plan to scale back the use of nuclear energy in favour of gas and renewables. Experts have warned that this will lead to rising energy prices and reduced export competitiveness.4

Globally, nuclear energy needs to grow to supply 25% of electricity by 2050 if the world hopes to avoid a greater than 2°C rise in temperature. We cannot afford to have countries that should know better turn their backs on this valuable decarbonisation technology.”


Further information

1Taiwan power system fails on gas incident
2Massive blackout hits Taiwan amid sweltering heat
3It goes completely against what most believe, but out of all major energy sources, nuclear is the safest
4Moon urged to halt South Korean nuclear exit

Nuclear Power In Taiwan
Nuclear Power In South Korea

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