Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday funnies, mostly

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  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Too right.

    (3) NIMBY. NZers have major fits over WINDMILLs, for crying out loud. Imagine the public horror at having a reactor next door!

    Southland & White Hills being the exception to the rule - these guys loved it & have had 2 fairs dedicated to it. I don't know of anyone against it!

    If I can be so bold as to add a fourth.
    (4) Reduce - If we gave away heaters & used Heat Pumps. Sure those light bulbs & all that stuff on standby we would find our current generation levels are just fine right now.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Also worth looking at is British Energy link, a nuclear power generator in the UK that was set up to compete with other energy suppliers - they couldn't and had to get a government bailout.
    Anyone for more experimentation with the NZ energy market?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Sutorius,

    > ...a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, Microsoft Office
    > Professional 2007 and OneCare.

    ... and second prize is a shipping-container-load of Windows Vista Ultimate, a multinational site-licence for Microsoft Office Professional 2007, and an intimate dinner with Steve Ballmer....


    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    (2) Earthquakes, risk, and risk. NZ and Japan have somewhat similar seismic profiles, even though their population leaves my Japanese friends wondering how we all stay sane in such a lonely place. Anyhow, everyone remember the quakes early this year in Japan?

    I always thought this might be a major reason.
    Has there been any studies done on seismic suitability of sites in NZ?
    Just wondering.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    Related to nuclear power: this story in the Economist.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I have always been a huge No Nukes person, stemming back to my sister being a large part of the movement (rubber boats in the harbour with placards etc in the 70's sort of thing - and plus which we're a protesting sort of family), but I did wonder about the viability of nuclear power just recently. I can't have been too committed to the idea that it might be good for us though, because I have to say that Andrew's partner's arguments are very convincing.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Sorry Off Topic, but while we're entertaining ideas like "Environmentally Friendly Nuclear Power" & other strange things.

    This dude had 113 pistols stolen from his house. 6 submachine guns & 2 military style rifles.

    I can understand collectors, I've got 5 bicycles & can only ride one at a time.

    But surely there has to be a limit to the number of pistols anyone can have, at least in one location.


    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    Turns out The Economist had a bit to say about nuclear power. Some relevant chunks from Nuclear Dawn are relevant. On uranium availability:

    Nuclear has worked well in France in part because it is accepted by politicians and the public alike, so there are few delays due to protests or planning problems. Elsewhere, these have lengthened the construction period and enormously increased costs. Once up and running, however, nuclear plants have a distinct advantage over those run on coal or natural gas: they need comparatively little fuel to operate. Although the price of uranium jumped from about $70 per pound in January to about $130 in mid-July, operating costs of nuclear power plants have changed very little. (Construction accounts for as much as three-quarters of the cost of nuclear generation.) Moreover, the rise in the price has prompted an exploration boom that will ultimately lead to more mines and greater supply. Uranium is not thought to be particularly scarceā€”it has simply not been very profitable to look for it recently.

    On waste:

    Even though new designs for nuclear plants may be safer, they still generate toxic waste. After about three years of use, the fuel is depleted of most fissile uranium but has accumulated long-lived radioactive materials that cannot be burned in conventional reactors. At the moment most such waste is stored near the plant until it can be moved to a permanent facility. But no country is yet operating a final disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste. America's Yucca Mountain repository, for example, is not expected to be ready for use for many years, if ever.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Nuclear energy won't become publicly acceptable until nuclear fusion becomes viable, and that's a long way off. Fusion solves most of the issues with current fission-based plants, especially nuke waste. The catch? Nuclear fusion only happens at 10^8 degrees Celsius, and not even tungsten will handle that sort of temperature. But an isolated magnetic field might.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The chair of the NZ Electricity Commission on nuclear power in NZ

    Precis: NZ is too small. One nuclear plant with current technology would be such a big chunk of total generation capacity that it could never be taken offline. And because they product constant output, which has to be used (you can't save electricity off the grid for later) it would force the other plants to scale up or down instead. Nowt to do with earthquake risk, or safety - just plain economics and the day to day issues in running the grid.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • dylan,

    From a European point of view, nuclear generated electricity is more attractive (for Europe) because there is:
    1) An over reliance on Russia and North Africa for gas (together they control more than 40% of Europe's gas supply)
    2) Limited hydro and other renewable sources
    3) Strong social concerns over environmental/CO2 emissions (making coal unattractive...until viable sequestration options are developed)
    4) Nuclear generated electrity already exists (which affects the debate in two ways i. you already have sites which should be suitable for new/replacement reactors ii. if you retired the existing reactors you would have to find alternative supplies)

    Largely as a result of the above the UK government in likely to replace it's current stock of nuclear reactors which I believe is a defenisble decision in the medium term.

    However, in New Zealand the situation is very different...
    1. Almost all our power is generated from indigenous sources (with the exception of coal to supply huntly) so the security of supply question is less relevant.
    2. There is unlikely to be a major gap in demand that needs to be met in the medium term (e.g. by having a booming economiy of 1 bln people in the case of China/India or by having to replace existing reactors as is the case in the UK). Hence, I strongly suspect that through energy efficiency initiatives (or shutting down huntly) and a stronger focus on renewables we could meet our energy requirements much more easily than resorting to nuclear.

    netherlands • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • dylan,

    one more thing, there were two things that bugged me in the Australian Uranium Council's "Nuclear Energy Prospects in New Zealand"...largely because of its slopiness (well it is Australian!)

    The comment that NZ is "having to retreat from using gas extravagantly for power generation". While it is true that we have used gas extravagantly it was in the manufacture of Methanol that we were extravagant. I suspect it is little know, but a significant percentage of Maui's gas (if forced to make a guess I'd say greater than 40%) was used to make methanol (originally it was meant to then be turned into synthetic fuel but this famed Thing Big project didn't fly). I also suspect that the energy minister's comments quoted in the article ("committing NZ to the profligate use of a very valuable and increasingly expensive resource.") were directed at the use of gas for methanol manufacure rather than for electricity production.

    The other mis-leading statement is that wind is "already well used, with some of the highest capacity factors in the world." I'm by no means an expert on wind resources in NZ but I doubt very much that we have made even a small dent in our potential wind resource. I believe the term "capacity factor" refers to the percentage of installed wind capactiy that is utilised and has nothing to do with the amount of resource that could be used if more facilities were built. What a lot of nonsense.

    netherlands • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    "...Nuclear energy won't become publicly acceptable until nuclear fusion becomes viable, and that's a long way off. Fusion solves most of the issues with current fission-based plants, especially nuke waste..."

    U.S. Spening on fusion research in 2007: about 320 million. Cost of Iraq war so far? Around half a trillion, and expected to be around two trillion by the time all the dust has settled. Imagine if the United States had embarked on a two decade, two trillion dollar, program to transform their economy with sub critical reactors, green renewables, and the infrastructure swop out required to switch from a fossil fuel to hydrogen fuelled economy.

    What a waste of money Iraq is, and what a wasted opportunity for the United States.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    This PDF printable chart on energy flows in NZ based on 2005 use is a good summary of the overall energy situation in New Zealand.

    It is an overal energy use chart and shows all the sources and end uses in PetaJoules (PJ) It also shows 178 PJ (very significant amount) of electricity conversion use lost as well as losses from other processes.

    Consequently there is another argument in energy circles that increasing the efficiency of energy generation for electricity is also something we need to do fairly urgently.

    Greenpeace also have a video on experiences in the Netherlands and Denmark where combined heat and power plants (mostly conventional based) and decentralised systems closer to population centres appear to get much higher efficiencies in production.

    The net benefit is to be able to use more "available" energy. In other words there are still carbon emissions but less of the energy is lost - reducing the need to setup more plants in the short term.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    I think the US is still hoping to get some access to Oil from Iraq. The strategis value is worth trillions.

    I did see something that suggested they screwed up the invasion so that they have to stay for 50 years or more. They can't rely on Saudi Arabia and a base in Iraq is what they need for going into Iran.

    I don't like any of these ideas but clearly some in the US see it this way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    I don't have the specifics with me, but from wind alone NZ has 4 times its current power consumption level in wind resources. The practicalities of capturing this resource means we will only use a fraction, but you're right "the answer my friends is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind".

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    It may be blowing in the wind - but it only does when the wind actually blows - and any energy solution needs to be able to meet peak power demand ...

    Hydro and wind are a great pairing, theoretically when the wind blows you let the dams fill and when it stops you empty them. Problem is, it seems to me, that we need to change our hydro resources to work well with wind - we don't need more dams, we need more turbines on the existing dams so we can raise the worst case peak generating capacity of the existing systems to work well with the wind systems that are currently planned - with out this we can use the wind to make sure the lakes don't run dry in bad years but if the wind farms get too big we can't depend on it for day to day loads

    Any climate scientists out there? I have a question - do we have any historical evidence: are 'dry' years as windy as 'wet' years or might we see wind and water 'droughts' at the same time?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Mr Hood, is there a third frame in the Clark-Clark morph, or is that terrifyingly sinister look in the middle just a natural midway point of her transformation, one that is usually invisible to the naked eye?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    And I meant the one *without* the lizard!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    Meh... I'm not convinced Australia and the US even really give that much of a shit about our 'iconic' nuclear weapons policy. I just have to wonder if among all the hot air around 'climate change', anyone is going to be raising the subject with Hu Jintao? Or is China's frankly appalling environmental record another one of those pesky 'sensitivities' we avoid at all cost?

    as opposed to US, Australia and NZs stunning records? What are we supposed to say? Oh , we got rich at the cost of the environment and increased CO2 emmissions - but you guys have to pay now too
    I'm not saying Chinas development and environmental impact is no concern - but it may look a bit rich coming from countries who have the highest per capita footprint and wont sign up to the Kyoto protocol.... do as we say (not as we do).

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm not saying Chinas development and environmental impact is no concern ....

    And I actually think it's clear enough that the Chinese government knows it has an issue. If it was directing official effort into political and media freedcom to the degree it is into environmental problems it's be, um, a different place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    And I meant the one *without* the lizard!

    Yeah, that is kind of alarming.

    It really is just the way it came out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

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