Sunday, 12 June 2016

"Too Many" Power Stations?

On the train back from Hsinchu on Friday I read an editorial in the Taipei Times by one "Jay Fang" (方儉), who is apparently chairman of something called the "Green Consumers’ Foundation". It was utterly appalling...
"Taiwan has too many power plants, there is no electricity shortage, nor will there be come summer. It is all just a fabrication concocted by Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台灣電力公司). If you leaf through the annual Bureau of Energy (BOE, 能源局) report, you will discover that Taiwan’s power generation capacity far exceeds electricity usage. If you ask the wrong questions, how do you expect to arrive at the correct answers?" 
Leaving aside the accusation that Taipower has deliberately lied to the public, he derives the conclusion that there are "too many" power stations in Taiwan from the observation that installed electricity generation capacity is greater than actual electricity consumption. But generation capacity is supposed to be greater than actual consumption! It is essential for two reasons. First, power stations must be shut down regularly for scheduled maintenance and therefore substitute capacity must be available to supply the grid. Second, there must be sufficient reserve capacity available in the event of unforeseen emergencies that cripple one or more power stations.

If installed capacity was approximately equal to electricity consumption, then Taipower would be failing the public and putting us all at risk. That would be a case of too few power stations.

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