Taipower applies to decommission Maanshan plant

27 July 2021

Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) has submitted an application to the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to shut down the two-unit Maanshan nuclear power plant. Under Taiwan's nuclear phase-out policy, its power reactors will be decommissioned as their 40-year operating licences expire. The phase-out will be completed with the closure of Maanshan unit 2 in 2025.

The Maanshan plant in southern Taiwan (Image: Taipower)

The operating licences for Maanshan units 1 and 2 will expire on 27 July 2024 and 17 May 2025, respectively. Under Taiwan's Nuclear Reactor Facility Control Law, Taipower is required to then permanently shut down the two 936 MWe pressurised water reactors. According to existing legislation, the utility must file an application to decommission the units at least three years prior to energy production stopping.

AEC announced yesterday that it had received such an application from Taipower for Maanshan 1 and 2. It said it will conduct the procedural review of the application, lasting about one month, to confirm that the documents are complete before proceeding to the substantive review, which will last about 18 months. However, it noted the actual review period will be adjusted depending on the time and quality of the review comments received from Taipower.

AEC said it has "rigorously" planned the review of the decommissioning plan for the Maanshan plant and will take into account the experience gained from the review of the decommissioning plans for the Chinshan and Kuosheng plants. It said the review of Taipower's application for decommissioning Maanshan will be carried out by "a special review team composed of external scholars and experts". The local government and residents will also be given the opportunity to participate in the process, AEC added.

Phase-out policy

Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was elected to government in January 2016 having a policy of creating a "nuclear-free homeland" by 2025. Under this policy, Taiwan's then six operable power reactors would be decommissioned as their 40-year operating licences expire. Shortly after taking office, the DPP government passed an amendment to the Electricity Industry Act, passing its phase-out policy into law. The government aims for an energy mix of 20% from renewable sources, 50% from liquefied natural gas and 30% from coal.

However, in a referendum held in November 2018, voters chose to abolish that amendment. The Ministry of Economic Affairs said the amendment was officially removed from the Electricity Industry Act on 2 December.

Nevertheless, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin said in January 2019 "there would be no extension or restarts of nuclear power plants in Taiwan due to subjective and objective conditions, as well as strong public objection".

Taiwan has three operable nuclear power reactors - one at the Kuosheng plant and two at the Maanshan plant. Unit 1 of Taiwan's oldest plant, Chinshan, was taken offline in December 2018, followed by Chinshan 2 in July 2019. Taipower announced earlier this month the permanent closure of unit 1 at its Guosheng plant, which had been scheduled to close in December this year. Unit 2 of the Guosheng plant is scheduled to operate until March 2023.

Construction of two units at Lungmen began in 1999, but the project has been beset with political, legal and regulatory delays. The completed unit 1 was mothballed in July 2015, while construction of unit 2 was suspended in April 2014.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News