As Japan marked the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident, thousands of Taiwanese citizens took to the streets in Taipei Saturday demanding the closure of atomic power plants and more citizen involvement in decisions on radioactive waste storage.
More than 60 anti-nuclear civil society groups rallied to demand greater openness and civic participation in managing nuclear waste, and advocated a move towards more sustainable forms of energy, Green Citizens' Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin told reporters during a march.
Indigenous groups from Orchid Island also took part in the demonstration outside the Presidential Palace with placards calling for the removal of nuclear waste from the island.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs responded by promising to comply with a plan to decommission its four nuclear plants and make Taiwan "nuclear-free" by 2025, in addition to using renewable sources for 20 percent of its power needs.
In a press release Saturday, the ministry said the movement towards non-nuclear sustainable energy and lower carbon dioxide emissions has been stepped up, and announced a two-year and a four-year plan to boost photovoltaic and wind energy, respectively.
In 2016, renewable energy in Taiwan accounted for just 4.8 percent of its power needs, but the ministry hopes that by 2025 that figure will rise to 20 percent, while natural gas will account for 50 percent and coal 30 percent.
Currently, approximately 78 percent of Taiwan's power comes from coal, a little over 8 percent from nuclear, and some 5 percent from renewable sources, according to various industry and official agencies.
The island nation's three active nuclear plants - with six reactors - can supply 5,200 megawatts, accounting for 8.1 percent of total consumption, and 19 percent of total electricity generation.
Taiwan needs to permanently store or treat over 3,600 tons of nuclear fuel used in the three plants, which are currently kept on peripheral islands, triggering strong protests from inhabitants of surrounding areas.