Post - Articles

Taiwan blackout causes scrutiny of power policy

  • 4 years ago (2017-08-17)
  • David Flin
Asia 687 Distribution 75

Taiwan’s electricity grid has been under strain, and an outage at the country’s biggest gas-fired power plant resulted in a power outage affecting 6 million households on Tuesday. This is the latest challenge to President Tsai Ing-wen’s efforts to reshape the island’s power mix.

World Future Energy Summit 2022
More info

World Future Energy Summit 2022

A combination of unusually hot weather, infrastructure damage from typhoons, and Tsai’s drive to abandon nuclear power left Taiwan with a small reserve margin. At 5pm on Tuesday 15 August, the Tatan power plant, which accounts for almost 9 per cent of the island’s generating capacity, stopped after workers accidentally shut off its natural gas supply.

Electricity was restored by 10pm. Lee Chih-kung, Taiwan’s Economy Minister, offered his resignation. Both the operator and supplier of the plant, Taiwan Power Co and CPC Corp., are state-run.

The outage has caused questions to be raised about Tsai’s policy of eliminating nuclear and reducing coal use, instead relying on natural gas, renewables, and distributed generation, decreasing reliance on single plants.

The disruption occurred when engineers replacing power supply equipment for a control system at Tatan’s metering station didn’t switch the system from automated to manual before starting the work. That resulted in two valves being automatically closed, shutting off gas supplies.

President Tsai said that she remained determined to continue with the phase out of nuclear power in favour of renewable energy.

Tsai said: “The Government is promoting distributed green energy to avoid the situation where an incident at a single power station can affect the power supply for the whole country. We will not change course. The incident only makes us more determined.”

In 2016, nuclear made up 12 per cent of Taiwan’s power mix, down from 17 per cent in 2013. Legislation passed in January set a goal of getting rid of nuclear power by 2025, as well as lowering the share of coal to 30 per cent, and raising natural gas to 50 per cent, with the remainder coming from renewables.