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Taiwan election points to nuclear phase-out by 2023 via Climate Home

Ing-wen Tsai, who leads the presidential polls, envisions a ‘nuclear-free homeland’ with a bigger role for energy efficiency and renewables

Taiwan is facing a phase-out of atomic power, with nuclear sceptic Ing-wen Tsai tipped to win a presidential election on Saturday.

The island state’s three operating nuclear plants are due for retirement by 2023. A fourth, 90% built, was mothballed last year in response to protests from a public spooked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

Opinion polls predict a landslide victory for Tsai, with her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in with a chance of its first ever parliamentary majority.

Her vision of a “nuclear-free homeland” has been dismissed as “unrealistic” by the incumbent Kuomintang (KMT) party.

The exclusion of a major source of low carbon electricity, which accounts for 19% of supply, raises tough questions about Taiwan’s climate goals.

Kwang-yin Liu, reporter for Taiwan’s CommonWealth Magazine, told Climate Home by email: “No matter which party takes office – KMT or DPP – the challenges will be the same: with the policy of decommissioning the old nuclear reactors in place, Taiwan will need to increase its budget dramatically in developing renewable energy sources in order to cut emissions.

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Tze-Luen Lin, energy and climate expert at National Taiwan University, expressed confidence the emissions targets were attainable.

“Some people argue that we need nuclear to meet that challenge, but I think there is still some room for energy efficiency,” he told Climate Home.

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