An international forum on nuclear safety got underway Sept. 26 in Taipei City, bringing together experts from around the world to discuss related issues and key policy developments.
“This event enables the public to better understand the role nuclear energy plays in ensuring energy security, mitigating climate change and boosting national economic development,” said Pan Chin, president of Hsinchu-based Chung-hwa Nuclear Society.
“Nuclear energy is indispensible choice for Taiwan to achieve its goals in cutting carbon dioxide emissions and boosting international trade.”
Pan made the remarks at the opening of the Nuclear Power and Energy Security Forum, which focuses on nuclear energy as a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy source.
Organized by CHNS and state-run Taiwan Power Co., the event was also attended by Water Hill, senior director of external communications at the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington; Tomoko Murakami, manager of the Nuclear Energy Group under The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan; Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association in the U.K. and Agneta Rising, director general of London-based World Nuclear Association.
Rising said statistics showed an increase in global nuclear power generation after the meltdown at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant triggered by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in northeastern Japan.
But not all countries are following this trend, Rising said, adding that Denmark and Germany remain strong advocates of renewable energy, with electricity operating reserves of both countries sourced mainly from coal or natural gas. “Their emission reduction efforts are not as efficient as Sweden, which uses water and nuclear power as backup electricity.”
Sweden has shifted its energy policy from nuclear-free to replacing old nuclear reactors with new ones and extending the serviceable life of existing units to 60 years, according to Rising.
Parker said the British government is planning to build new nuclear power plants, evidence that nuclear energy is once again an important part of the country’s future energy profile.
Describing nuclear energy as the world’s most reliable and economical energy source, Hill said there are five nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S., with proposals for nine others under review. A survey conducted in February showed that 69 percent of the Americans support nuclear energy, he added.
Murakami said following Fukushima, the Japanese government is working to achieve the goal of abandoning nuclear energy by 2030. But she acknowledged that placing a greater emphasis on alternative energy has impacted industrial competitiveness through price hikes in electricity and a larger trade deficit due to importing natural gas.
Liao Huei-chu, professor at Tamkang University’s Department of Economics, said without Lungmen—Taiwan’s yet-to-be-completed fourth nuclear power plant in Gongliao District, New Taipei City—the country faces the twin specters of rising prices and unstable supply. “This will have a dramatic impact on the local economy as the country imports 98 percent of its energy.
“As international energy prices and demand continue to rise, as well as the fact that Taiwan lacks new generating technologies and energy pacts, we really need to question how long the country can survive if it uses solely renewable energy.”