What you need to know
Vice President Lai Ching-te does not rule out exploring nuclear energy in the future if safety and waste disposal issues can be resolved through new technology.
Vice President Lai Ching-te, who also represents the Democratic Progress Party (DPP) as a presidential candidate, told the press on Thursday (October 19th) that he would consider the option of nuclear energy if future technology can resolve safety and waste disposal issues.
Lai made these comments while expressing support for the government's policy of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050, which envisions Taiwan becoming a nuclear-free island in the future.
He endorsed the pursuit of the net-zero goal through not only solar and wind power but also by utilizing hydroelectric power to reduce reliance on liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a power source. Meanwhile, he did not rule out the possibility of exploring nuclear energy in the future if new technology ensures it to be safe and waste-free.
The closure of the fourth nuclear power plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City, has been approved through a referendum and is scheduled for retirement by mid-2025, with no plans for reopening, according to Lai.
Lai explained that the choice is not motivated by “political ideology” but to be made to complicit with the “law” and “global trends”. “If new technology can resolve nuclear energy safety issues and the problem relating to nuclear waste, I believe [Taiwanese] society will accept it.” he added.
Therefore, the extension of the lifespan of the three other nuclear plants will depend on developments in waste storage and technology in the future, as well as legal, public opinion, and implementation feasibility, according to Lai’s proposal.
Lai is the sole presidential candidate who remains opposed to the current operation of nuclear plants in Taiwan, aiming to continue President Tsai Ing-Wen’s energy policies.
In contrast, Lai’s rivals, including Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou Yu-ih and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je, have endorsed the reactivation of the Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant, which is the country’s fourth but unfinished nuclear plant.
Along with independent candidate Terry Gou, the two candidates also support extending the operations of Taiwan's three other nuclear power plants.
TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)
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