Taipower Gets Go-Ahead to Build Taichung Turbines

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Taiwan's cabinet -- the Executive Yuan -- has issued a special permit to allow Taiwan Power (Taipower) to begin construction of two 1,300-megawatt combined cycle gas turbines at its Taichung Power Plant. The new units will lift Taiwan's LNG import level, which is already fifth in the world (see graph). Taichung City -- and its power plant controversy -- is on the central western coast of Taiwan, whereas the separate controversy over the county's third LNG import terminal is taking place on the northern end of the island (LNGI May4'21) Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua said that the first new gas-fired unit at Taichung should come on line in mid-2025, one year later than planned, followed by the second 1,300-MW unit in 2026. The two units will be supplied by GE and Taiwan's CTCI, which will also provide three similar generators to Taipower's Hsinta plant in Kaohsiung City. Battle With the Mayor Ends The decision to issue a license for a “special building type” to the state-owned utility ended 15 months of delays due to opposition from Taichung City Mayor Lu Hsiu-yen. The mayor, from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, demanded that Taipower first dismantle two of the facility's 10 550-MW coal fired generators before beginning construction of the two gas-fired units. Wang said that the Ministry of Interior Construction and Planning Agency ruled earlier this week that the mayor had overstepped her authority by requiring Taipower to submit its plans to the city's urban design commission for approval. A Need to Ensure Power Supply Citing new peaks in power usage in May and June due to extreme heat and a “soft” lockdown due to Taiwan's worst outbreak of Covid-19, Wang said the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) could no longer accept delays due to the need to ensure power supply stability (LNGI May13'21). Wang said the MOEA would accelerate work on other LNG plants, renewable energy projects and power conservation programs to compensate for the impact of the delays on Taiwan's power supply. Wang said that the MOEA and the Taichung City administration agreed on replacing coal and reducing pollution. However, the MOEA maintained that building the gas units first was essential to maintaining power stability. Wang said dismantling two coal-fired units before beginning construction of the LNG generators would have resulted in a 3% gap in power supply. Replacing Coal Wang said that after the first LNG unit comes on line, Taipower will dismantle two coal-fired units. Taipower would follow a similar procedure when the second LNG unit comes on line in 2026 (LNGI Apr.23'21). In response to a question about whether the coal units in the Taichung plant will be retired by 2035, Wang said that the target could be met if the two 1,300-MW gas-fired units came on line on the new schedule and possibly with the addition of “a third, fourth or maybe fifth” unit depending on future evaluation of power demand needs. Dennis Engbarth, Taipei

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