Asia Minute: Massive Power Outage Strikes Taiwan

Aug 16, 2017

Credit leon_0932 / Pixabay

Many island communities are particularly vulnerable to power outages. They often come from storms, or downed electricity poles. But a massive power outage on Taiwan this week was different. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Power was knocked out to more than six million households across Taiwan Tuesday.

The blackout lasted about five hours into Tuesday night local time.

It was the worst loss of electricity on the island in nearly 20 years, and authorities are blaming a series of events including human error.

Taiwan’s electricity supply has been under pressure for some time—in part because of damage to infrastructure from recent typhoons. The weather has been unusually hot, taxing air conditioning systems as temperatures stayed near 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, the administration of President Tsai Ing-Wen has been cutting back on the use of nuclear power—shutting down one nuclear station entirely and closing three other reactors for maintenance.

The Chinese National Federation of Industries and other business groups have criticized the administration for moving too fast in phasing out nuclear energy.

The human error came in when an electrical plant in northern Taiwan shut down as workers accidentally turned off its supply of natural gas.

President Tsai posted an apology on her Facebook page, but also said the event demonstrates the need for more renewable energy to avoid the situation where an incident at a single power station can affect the power supply for all of Taiwan.