There are encouraging news in promoting green energy including that Japan will become a new star of solar power. However, many indications show that the tendency of using nuclear power to generate electricity is still far from extinction.
Among them is the case in Taiwan whose President ,Mr. Ma Yin-Jieu ,recently staying one night at one of the nuclear power plants reflecting the continued support for using nuclear power. It is sad and irony to the country which enjoys more resources of wind and solar power than Japan and Germany but contrubutes so little to the clean environment compared to those two contries. Especially it is among the top players of green energy equipments and solutions supply in terms of solar power and LED lighting.
The construction of the fourth nuclear power plant on the island has long been a political issue in the past two decades. It has already paid tremendous cost for the delay. But the decision of abolishing it seems still remote even though people have rejected it in several referendums.
Why is it so difficult for many countries including Iran or Taiwan to abolishing nuclear power plants?
First of all, it is the replacement interest of current coal based system which is still playing an important role for the country. The second factor is that the lobbyists representing nuclear power plants providers have successfully built connection with influential politicians who have helped ambiguous safety measures pass the parliament before. The third factor is to keep the possibility of making nuclear weapons. All reasons look simple but are getting more and more difficult to defend.
From the development of wind farm and solar power plant around the island, we notice that wind farms are ahead of solar power plants. This is because most of the wind farms are owned by Taipower directly or by other private companies which have joint venture with Taipower. On top of that nearly all of them are managed by retired high rank officers of Taipower while the solar power plants are seen only sporadically on some private companies' or local governments' projects claiming to nurturing the industry symbolically.
Though the pressure to use green energy is getting higher, but as long as the government is reluctant to give up nuclear power policy and hesitating to strongly promote solar power, the existing interest group which is well linked with Taipower is going to keep the island away from clean environment for a long time.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Power. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Eugene Chen 陳仲漁 is currently the Managing Director and co-owner of Grand Aspect International. He is also one of the Turn Around Managers of European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). He is an expert in Green Energy and Trade Finance.