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Taiwan Considers Keeping Nuclear Reactors on Emergency Standby

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan is considering keeping nuclear power plants on standby in case of emergencies, signaling a loosening of policy to phase out the energy source.

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The government plans to maintain shut reactors so that they could be restarted in an emergency, Taipei-based United Daily News reported, citing Vice President Lai Ching-te, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate. It’s the first time the government has signaled it’s possible to restart plants, United Daily News said.

The use of nuclear as backup generation would be unusual because of the high costs and safety measures required. Taiwan’s plans to phase out its last remaining atomic plant by 2025 go against a global resurgence of the technology to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The island is also seeking to reduce coal consumption, leaving the government under pressure to build out gas-powered generation and offshore wind to avoid power shortages.

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A restart strategy would only be needed in extreme emergencies, such as external blockades or serious natural disaster, and would need to be safe and have consensus among lawmakers and the public, Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters on Monday.

Taiwan got about 11% of its power from nuclear in 2021, according to state-owned Taiwan Power Co. It has two operating reactors that started in the 1980s and which are slated to close next year and in 2025.

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