The concrete shields of the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant are visible from a popular beach in southern Taiwan's Pingtung county. Photo: Taipower Co.

Taiwan Premier William Lai has vowed to stick to the goal of taking all the island’s nuclear reactors offline by 2025 while maintaining a stable energy supply.

In her election platform in 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen pledged to diversify the energy mix and replace nuclear power with clean energy like wind and solar power and mothball the island’s four nuclear plants. The plan was to tap natural gas to fill the shortfall in the power supply.

The government aims to reduce the nation’s coal-fired energy supply to 30% and boost the share of renewable energy and natural gas to 20% percent and 50% percent respectively by 2025.

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan estimates that the total output capacity of renewables would reach 54,600 gigawatt-hours by 2025, which would translate to a reduction of 2,888 tons of carbon dioxide emission.

That said, Taiwan is still faced with the dilemma of eliminating nuclear risks and tackling deteriorating air quality.

A new coal-fired facility is still planned for a suburb of Taipei, which will belch out more fumes into the already polluted air in northern Taiwan. But Lai stressed that more than one-third of the plant’s costs would go into advanced depolluting devices, cutting the plant’s original projected emissions by 70%.

Meanwhile, the island’s Atomic Energy Council also sought to clarify the cause of an emergency shutdown at a nuclear power plant near Taipei, an incident that panicked the public in March.

The government also admitted that the 2025 time frame merely referred to the start of phasing out nuclear electricity generation and it would be decades after 2025 to fully decommission all the nuclear facilities, from cooling the fuel rods to removing them and ultimately dismantling the reactors.

The Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City is in its second phase of environmental assessment and is expected to begin its retirement process by the end of this year, to be completed by 2043.

The Guosheng plant is to tender its plans for its retirement next year – the retirement process will begin in 2021 and conclude by 2046.

The Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung county is to tender its retirement plan by 2021 and retire the plant by 2049.

Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior’s nuclear-free homeland task force has been working across departmental lines to find a suitable site for waste disposal by 2025. Whether to expand the existing nuclear waste storage facility on an outlying island is yet to be decided.