Taiwan’s oldest operating nuclear plant, Chinshan 1 (a 636MWe boiling water reactor), ceased operations on 5 December and has officially entered decommissioning. The reactor was commissioned in 1977 and has generated 162.5TWh of electricity. Chinshan 2, whose operating licence will expire in July 2019, has also been retired.

Under Taiwanese regulations, a decommissioning plan must be submitted by the licensee three years prior to the reactor’s permanent shut down. Taipower submitted the Chinshan decommissioning plan to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in November 2015 and it was approved in June 2017. The utility also submitted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) covering the disposal of used fuel and other materials to the Environmental Protection Administration in January 2016, and it remains under review.

A decommissioning licence is expected to be granted by the AEC following approval of the EIA. According to regulations, decommissioning should be completed within 25 years. The decommissioning approach will include dismantling of all radioactively contaminated equipment, structures, and materials.

Phaseout deadline abolished

Meanwhile, on 6 December, Taiwan’s cabinet announced that following the results a referendum on 24 November, it has agreed to abolish the goal it had previously set of making Taiwan a nuclear-free country by 2025.

The pro-nuclear referendum was passed with 5,895,560 (59.49%) in favour and 4,014,215 (40.51%) against. Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka told a press conference that the cabinet had agreed to delete the relevant article (95-1) of the Electricity Act and that the proposal would be sent to the Legislative Yuan (parliament).

The 2025 goal was a policy President Tsai Ing-wen had pledged during the 2016 presidential election. The original intent was to eliminate nuclear power by 2025 while raising the percentage of renewable energy and natural gas to 20% and 50%, respectively, and reducing the use of coal to 30%. Nuclear power accounted for 9.3% of Taiwan’s electricity supply in 2017.

Taipower operates two 985MWe BWRs at Kuosheng in New Taipei City’s Wanli District and two 951MWe pressurised water reactors at Maanshan in southern Pingtung County. Kuosheng 1 is licensed until December 2021, Kuosheng 2 until March 2023, Maanshan 1 until July 2024 and Maanshan 2 until May 2025, according to AEC.