Friday, October 14, 2005

Oil costs delay Taiwan nuclear power plant by three years


Friday • October 14, 2005

Soaring oil costs and a sluggish domestic economy have slowed construction of Taiwan's controversial fourth nuclear power plant and could delay operations by three years, state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) says.

In an internal assessment report, the plant's operation would be delayed to 2009 from July 2006 as originally scheduled, a Taipower spokesperson said, adding the report was pending a review of cabinet.

"The construction has been seriously affected by rising import costs of crude and raw materials and a local economic slowdown which has discouraged investment interest in the project," the spokesperson said.

Taipower should have completed 86 percent of the plant, located in the island's northeastern town of Kungliao, by the end of September, but only 62 percent was finished, he said.

One unit of the plant's core reactor, with a capacity of 1,350 megawatts, was to begin operations in July 2006, while the second unit with the same capacity had been scheduled to become operational in July 2007.

But the spokesperson said no power shortage was expected since Taipower's liquidified-natural-gas fueled power plant was scheduled to begin operation next year to provide up to 1,400 megawatts in electricity.

The 5.6 billion US dollar project has been mired in controversy since the 2000 presidential election which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won.

The DPP government scrapped the partly built nuclear plant without consulting parliament in October 2000, but reinstated the project in February 2001 after public pressure.

The suspension was likely to add an additional 1.3 billion dollars to the construction costs, officials have said.

Critics said the three-year operation delay could further raise the total costs by an extra 30-70 billion Taiwan dollars (90 million US-2.1 billion US). — AFP


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