OVER MY DEAD BODY? The Cabinet said a plan to build solar energy capacity would use land adjacent to or vacated by cemeteries, not graveyards themselves
By Sean Lin / Staff reporter
The public and businesses do not need to worry about the nation’s electricity supply, as there is no shortage of power nor is such a problem likely to arise in the foreseeable future, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.
Operating reserves have been maintained at more than 6 percent and are to be increased to 10 percent next year as the industrial sector has suggested, Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said, dismissing reports of widespread misgivings over the stability of the nation’s power supply.
“As far as the government understands, the semiconductor industry will continue to invest in Taiwan, because there is no power shortage problem, nor will it occur in the future,” Kolas said. “I hope the Taiwanese public and industry are not worrying about that.”
The Cabinet is to instruct the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taiwan Power Co （台電） to step up efforts to explain to the public the state of the nation’s energy supply to allay the recurring concern of an imminent energy shortage, she said.
There is no chance the government will reconsider its goal of phasing out nuclear power, she added.
“We remain committed to a nuclear power-free homeland by 2025,” Kolas said, following a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily saying that several leaders of the nation’s semiconductor industry were gravely concerned that an insufficient power supply would hinder the industry’s long-term development.
The newspaper cited Far Eastern Group （遠東集團） chairman Douglas Hsu （徐旭東） as saying that the government should continue using nuclear power to avoid an electricity shortage crisis.
Kolas also clarified a policy introduced by the Ministry of the Interior to “utilize the nation’s 2,800 public cemeteries” to generate solar power, which critics said would be disrespectful to the dead.
In a bid to push the policy of a nuclear power-free homeland by 2025, the interior ministry on Thursday passed an amendment to the Regulations on Non-urban Land Use Control （非都市土地使用管制規則） stipulating that public cemeteries may be used as solar energy generation sites with the approval of the interior ministry and local governments.
By revitalizing public cemeteries, the interior ministry aims to free up 2,000 hectares nationwide for photovoltaics, which would supply 2 gigawatts of solar energy, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung （徐國勇） said.
The wording of the amendment sparked controversy after news of the policy began circulating on the Internet, with some saying that it would be disrespectful to the dead, as generating solar energy at cemeteries would prevent them from resting in peace, and that it would be “using dead people to generate electricity.”
“The policy does not propose building solar farms on public cemeteries, but rather on nearby vacant lots or on land left vacant after public cemeteries have been relocated,” Kolas said yesterday in response to reporters’ questions.
Solar farms are not like wind farms, which generate noise, so they are unlikely to disturb the dead, she said, adding that the public should rest assured.
The interior ministry would ensure adequate communication with local governments before building solar farms near public cemeteries, she added.
Additional reporting by CNA
The Dajia River Power Plant in Taichung’s Heping District, the first facility in the nation to use hydropower and solar panels to generate electricity, is pictured yesterday. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Power Co
Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka smiles during a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Lee Hsin-fang, Taipei Times