March 7, 2022: On Friday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to scrutinize power infrastructure and accelerate ongoing efforts to improve grid reliability after a mass outage that left one-third of the island without electricity.
Taiwan blamed negligence in the annual maintenance at a central power plant for the outage across the island, causing the lights to go off for over 5 million households. However, the crucial semiconductor sector was largely unaffected.
“The national security team conducts examinations on the resilience of key infrastructure, and yesterday’s incident is one of the cases that needed to be scrutinized closely,” Tsai said in a statement.
Tsai is saying supply was okay at the time of the incident, and the mass outage was triggered “simply by operational negligence highlighting problems in the power grid and the resilience of its key infrastructure of the country.”
“We must do a complete power infrastructure check-up and accelerate works on systematic improvement,” Tsai said, setting to visit the coal-fired station in the southern city of Kaohsiung at noon.
Power has been restored, but the outage has renewed Tsai’s electricity policy criticism. Taiwan’s main opposition party, Kuomintang (KMT), calls for Economic Minister Wang Mei-Hua to step down.
In May, Taiwan experienced two significant outages when the island grappled with drought and heat-wave, triggered by a spike in demand and insufficient supply.
Taiwan, a global semiconductor powerhouse, is trying to improve its grid management and boost power supply as demand rises between a booming local economy and a worldwide chip shortage that has led to expansion by large chip companies like Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
The outages have fanned criticism of Tsai’s plan to boost the island’s renewable energy target to 20% and phase out nuclear power by 2025.