Wednesday, September 08, 2004

New Zealand: a Choice between Coal and Nuclear Power?

cover image from the video game "New Zealand Story"

This article in New Zealand's Otago Daily Times suggests that nuclear power stations will be operating in New Zealand by 2015 if coal is not used as a fuel source. Currently 40 of approximately 60 power stations in New Zealand are hydroelectric.

To me this seems a false choice. New Zealand produces more of its electricity from hydro-electric power stations than any other country. There's nothing stopping New Zealand utilising wind, wave, solar & tidal power to meet its future energy needs.

(sorry no direct link - search for "nuclear power 2015")


Blogger Sheryl said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today.

I used to live outside Wellington, New Zealand, and they have a wind powered turbine on Mt. Victoria overlooking the city. My ex and I visited it once. Hold on, I'll find a link about it...

I could be wrong, but I doubt New Zealand would intentionally go a dirty route when there is so much wind there. I don't know about hydroelectric, but it's a pretty windy place.



8:05 am, September 09, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite...

WHY would nuclear power be a bad option in New Zealand? And just how much of New Zealand's future energy needs do you suppose could actually be met via wind, wave, solar, and tidal--in other words, by solar?

If you ask me, the REAL alternative power source for the near to middle future is nuclear. The dirtiest thing about it is the politics.

Jason G. Williscroft
The Dead Hand

11:49 am, September 09, 2004  
Blogger Idiot/Savant said...

Jason: because we're fairly tectonicly active. In addition, we have no indigenous uranium processing industry, which would force us to import fuel. Finally, it's ludicrously expensive, and our planning process and the certainty of protests and sabotage would make it even more so. We really don't like nuclear power down here - but fortunately we can afford to.

New Zealand has excellent wind resources which we are only just beginning to exploit. There's easily scope for it to provide up to 20% of our generation capacity; some reports have suggested 30% before the synergy with hydro ceases to be useful. It's cost-competitive even given our low electricity prices, and so companies are climbing aboard (helped by a government scheme to provide clean generators with carbon credits).

Other than that, we also have further scope for hydro development. We'll still need thermal generation for backup and firming, but not nearly as much of it as we use now (the current popularity of natural gas stations in NZ is due to insanely cheap gas (it's a long story) and the market values of our newly commercialised electricity sector).

There's no question that nuclear is better than coal, and I'd far rather the Americans built more nuclear stations than continued to burn fossil fuels. But one size does not fit all. We're lucky enough to have better options down here which allow us to do without it.

No Right Turn - New Zealand's second-best liberal blog

5:37 pm, September 09, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't tell you what a refreshing point of view that is!

Let me explain: I spent twelve years in the U.S. Navy & Marine Corps, and the—excuse me—frankly ridiculous anti-nuclear stance adopted by Kiwi officialdom has prevented quite a few interested U.S. sailors & Marines from visiting your beautiful country.

Yes, the sad truth is that irrational politics have almost certainly overwhelmed—aborted prior to conception—any possible nuclear power movement Down Under (And A Bit To The Right).

As you pointed out, though, your country enjoys an unusual bounty of potential alternatives, particularly the geothermal one, where I believe you folks are (at least potentially) second only to Iceland.

Perhaps your most persuasive argument is the economoc one: so far as nuclear sources go, you aren't in a position to grow your own. Luck of the draw, really, but I won't even try to argue with a people who value self-sufficiency.


Jason G. Williscroft
The Dead Hand

2:39 pm, September 12, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using tidal stream power is a great idea and there is a way to make it even more valuable. Power demand rises and falls diurnally and seasonally and power generation capacity has to cater for the maximum projected power demand plus a margin. To put in an extra generator of whatever type to provide the extra needed power when the renewable but variable sources are not meeting the demand is expensive. Factors such as the interest on the loan to build them must be factored in. In British Columbia, this is recognised and when excess power is available, they use it to pump water up into reservoirs in order to have water available to "peak shave". In other words to generate this top part of the power on demand without having to build extra generating capacity. This is economically viable despite the fairly large losses in pumping and reusing the water to generate power.
The tidal generators could be particularily useful to balance our increasing wind generating capacity by pumping water up into a reservoir. If the reservoir was full, the excess water could be used for generation but when needed the whole reservoir could be used for peak shaving. Remember peak shaving power is more valuable than base load power. It wouldn't even have to pump sea water. Fresh water from near the mouth of a river could be used. An added advantage of such a system is that it eliminates the generation of power in a marine environment with all the problems of water proofing generators, corrosion from magnetically induced currents and so forth.

2:44 am, May 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO offence but i wouldnt really go for nuclear energy.
well, if you look at the positive side, nuclear energy dosent produce any carbon dioxide or air pollution.
And if you look at the cons, it is non renewable and very expensive.Also if an accident occurs, nuclear energy can be catastrophic, polluting and life threatening.

Alizaa Ara :)

3:59 pm, September 09, 2008  

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