In this summer’s edition of ENS NEWS we are casting our net farther afield with an article from the Atomic Energy Council in Taiwan. It gives an overview of nuclear developments in Taiwan and highlights how the nuclear revival really is global.
Nuclear Overview in Taiwan
A. Energy Policy
Soon after President Ma Ying-jeou took office on 20 May 2008, the new government passed a Sustainable Energy Policy Directive, calling for equal emphasis on “energy security”, “economic development”, and “environmental protection” in future energy development to ensure national security and a sustainable future. Following the goal of this Directive, the Executive Yuan launched the Third National Energy Conference, which was realized in April 2009, to provide guidelines on the nation’s energy strategies. The conclusion of the conference outlined three major goals on future energy developments: to work toward a “low-carbon society”, to develop future economy, society, and environment based on new energy technology, and to coordinate government policies to reach the “low-carbon society”.
Several actions have since been initiated, including in January 2010 the establishment of a new committee led by Vice Premier to promote energy conservation and carbon reduction. In March 2010 the committee finalized a master plan for reaching targets of energy conservation and carbon reduction. In the plan, targets were set for reducing overall carbon emissions to 30% lower than BAU (business as usual) level by 2020. Nuclear power has now been recognized as an important low-carbon source of power, which also increases energy supply diversity.
B. Nuclear Power Plants and Performance
In 2009, 99.4% of Taiwan’s energy sources relied on imports. Electricity generation totalled 229.7 terawatt-hours (TWh) which was contributed by: coal 38.40%, co-gen 17.3%, LNG 20.1%, oil 2.7%, nuclear 18.1%, hydro 3.1% and wind & solar PV 0.35%.
Power consumption dropped 3.6% across Taiwan during 2009 as a result of the global recession, with industrial electricity use down 6.3%. Nonetheless, nuclear power contributed 18.1% to the total supply – compared to 17.1% in 2008. The three nuclear power plants at Chinshan, Kuosheng and Maanshan, operated by state-owned utility Taiwan Power Company (TPC), with two operating units at each site, generated 41.57
terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity (gross) in 2009 – setting a new record high for the third consecutive year.
Performance wise, the average capacity factor for all six units in 2009 was 92.17%, which ranked 6th in the world and also the best record ever in Taiwan’s nuclear power operation. The annual average number of abnormal events was 1.33 per unit (or 8 events for all six units), and the average number of automatic scrams was 0.17 per unit (or only 1 scram for all six units) in 2009. New records were also set at Maanshan-2 for a refueling outage of 28.48 days, a full day shorter than the record set at Kuosheng-2 in 2008, and for continuous operation of 542 days, breaking the old mark of 538 days set at Chinshan-1 in 2005.
During the two-year time from July 2007 to July 2009, power uprates of the MUR (Measurement Uncertainty Recapture) type were accomplished on all six units, adding 56 MWe to the existing installed capacity of 5,144 MWe, which amounts to an annual increase of 0.44 TWh in electricity generation, equivalent to 0.28 million metric tons of CO2 emissions reduction.
C. Construction of Lungmen Plant
Construction continues at the fourth nuclear power plant “Lungmen” housing two ABWR units with 95% completion for construction and 37% completion for test runs as of 28 February 2010. The project has encountered significant delays first due to the suspension in 2000, then the rising price of construction materials, finding new subcontractors to replace the bankrupted and negotiating new contracts to succeed the expired ones. Completion and testing of the integrated distributed control and information system (DCIS) has been one of the greatest challenges of the project. Commercial operation dates have been reset to December 2011 and 2012 for Lungmen-1 and -2, respectively.
D. Radioactive Waste Management
On-site dry storage prior to final disposal has been recognized as a favorable option for the spent nuclear fuel management. An application for constructing a spent fuel dry storage facility at Chinshan plant was submitted by the TPC in March 2007. After rounds of review by a technical review team, the Fuel Cycle and Materials Administration (FCMA) of the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) accepted the application and issued a construction license in December 2008. The TPC is ready to commence the construction work pending approval of its water and soil reservation plan by the county government, which is expected to happen very soon.
As required by law, a candidate site for a low-level waste final disposal facility will be determined through a referendum on multiple recommended candidate sites. In March 2009, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced two recommended candidate sites, as determined by its site selection committee, located in Nantien village of Taitung County and Donguiyu Islet of Pescadores. However, the county government of Pescadores subsequently claimed the site as a natural reserve, which by law must be excluded in the siting process. The siting committee is now working on recommending additional potential site(s) to re-establish a list of multiple recommended candidate sites.
FCMA has also started on establishing a personnel qualification system for radioactive waste management, qualifying not only regulatory staff but also facility operators. The corresponding regulation was promulgated in April 2009, with sunset clauses to cease current practices in two years.
E. Highlights of Nuclear Regulatory Activities
The AEC started a rigorous safety review upon receipt of a 20-year license renewal application from TPC for the Chinshan plant in July 2009. Some of other major reactor regulatory activities include: 10-year integrated safety assessment for Chinshan-1, continuing review of transient analysis methodology licensing applications, and a first-time maintenance rule inspection for all nuclear plants. For the Lungmen plant, focuses were on the pre-operation test inspection of pre-requisite systems and the initial test program and turnover process inspection. In the area of radiation protection, significant efforts were devoted to the implementation of the mammography quality control program, a special safety inspection of radiation sources at all academia and research institutes, and strengthening of self management in NDT radiation safety.
F. Nuclear and Related R&D Focuses
Major research focuses of the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) include: time limited comprehensive safety assessment for Chinshan and Kuosheng NPPs, nuclear power uprate for all three NPPs, NPP license renewal related studies, development of decommissioning and decontamination technology, commercial-grade item dedication for nuclear safety-related applications, development of solid oxide fuel cells, cellulosic ethanol, high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) systems, wind power generation systems, and the integrated model of energy technology and macro-economy, and development and commercialization of radiopharmaceuticals. In addition, about 140 person-years were devoted to technical service activities for NPPs including the construction of the Lungmen plant in 2009.
G. Government Reform
On 12 January 2010 the Legislative Yuan passed a set of four laws paving the way for a reform of the Executive Yuan that will reduce the number of cabinet-level agencies from 37 to 27. The AEC and its affiliated organizations are among those to be affected by this reform. According to the current plan, the AEC is to be transformed into a nuclear safety regulatory entity and maintain its nuclear regulatory role under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Its research arm INER will become an administrative corporation, and the MOEA will become the Ministry of Energy and Economic Affairs. Decisions on these and other major reshufflings will be finalized in the coming months. The reorganization will take effect on 1 January 2012, and a two-year transition ending in December 2013 will allow all agencies to adjust themselves to the new operations.
Jec-Kong Gone, Ph. D.
Chief, International Affairs Section
Atomic Energy Council
80, Sec. 1, Cheng-Gong Rd. Yung-Ho City, Taipei County
Taiwan 234, R.O.C.