Cremated bodies to power air-con in Taiwan

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The Independent Online

A Taiwan crematorium plans to use exhaust from its ovens to power its air-conditioning system, officials said Wednesday, in a move critics blasted as insensitive to mourning relatives.

The Taipei Mortuary Services Office has invested 7.7 million Taiwan dollars (240,000 dollars) on technology that recycles exhaust from cremations, converting it into electricity, deputy director Yang Yi-lin told AFP.

The agency plans to use the electricity in a new air-con system in the second-floor rest area of the crematorium, located in suburban Taipei, but some worry that it would upset families of the deceased.

"It's creepy that the mourners are cooled by air-conditioning powered by the bodies of their relatives being burnt downstairs," Taipei City Councillor Chuang Ruei-hsiung was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying.

"I think this is unethical and disrespects the dead and their family," said Liu Tung-po, 60, while waiting for a relative to be cremated.

A 42-year-old man, who asked not to be named, supported the plan, saying "it can generate clean energy to better protect the environment."

The crematorium would not abort the project, but would consider using the electricity for other facilities, such as the lighting system, according to Yang.

"We recycle the exhaust to reduce air pollution and protect the environment. But we will also take the relatives' feelings into account," she said.

Environmental-conscious Taiwan passed a major renewable energy bill this year as part of plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 2008 levels by 2016, and to 2000 levels by 2025.