The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ latest proposal for a proposed third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) yesterday failed to make it out of the first environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee meeting at the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).
The ministry said that if the project cannot go ahead as planned, “13.7 billion kilowatt-hours of power per year, equivalent to 5 million tonnes of coal,” would be missing from Taiwan’s power generation capacity.
That would set Taiwan’s decarbonization targets back, the ministry said, while environmental groups said that the proposal is still too disruptive to the fragile algal reef habitat off the coast of Datan.
Photo: Taipei Times file photo
Although some members of the committee, which was composed of field experts, supported the project, the committee’s conclusion after a public hearing and a closed-door discussion was that “more information is required” from CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油), which was instructed to clarify 14 points before it can hope to execute the project.
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生), who said he was not disappointed by the result, promised to return to the proposal “in good faith” to see whether it could be “adjusted to accommodate the concerns of the committee members.”
“There were no expectations that this would be a swift process,” Tseng said. “We are aware that the assessments take time and, indeed, it would be unprecedented for the EPA to give this project the green light before December’s referendums.”
A referendum on the project is to be held on Dec. 18.
Rescue Datan’s Algal Reefs Alliance convener Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政) criticized the ministry for holding a news conference before the committee meeting to underline the importance of the project to Taiwan’s energy security.
“They were trying to influence the outcome of the committee,” Pan said ahead of the meeting, calling on the government to hold public hearings.
Tseng told the news conference that the ministry “had a duty to speak out” due to the terminal’s importance to the nation’s energy transition policy, which would lower the amount of power generated from coal-fired plants from 40 percent to 30 percent and increase the amount generated from LNG-powered plants from 40 percent to 50 percent.
“I wish that environmental groups would look at the big picture when it comes to protecting the environment,” Tseng said, adding that LNG, although a fossil fuel, releases about half the greenhouse gasses of coal.
Without the proposed third terminal, Taiwan’s two existing terminals could not receive enough LNG to supply the Datan power plant, he said.
“Not only Taiwan’s decarbonization goals, but our plans for energy stability would be affected,” he said.
Although alternative sites had been proposed for the terminal, Tseng said they would have set the project back by at least a decade.
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