Thursday, 5 June 2008

WARNING: Auckland hasn't got the power

An urgent email from the EMA puts my two recent posts  on NZ's creaking electricity supply into context:

    Contact's Otahuhu B power station was brought off line at 6.00pm last night and will be out for at least 4 days. The 400 MW plant has been operating at near maximum capacity lately and is vital for Auckland.
    The issue is with a boiler tube requiring immediate repair. 
    The outage comes at the worst time with our hydro storage levels at near record lows, and with tight electricity supply conditions as a result. All available generation is now being brought into the market.
    The problem is particularly critical for the Auckland area....

You got that right.

13 comments:

  1. For the life of me I cannot fathom why a modern clean safe 24/7 nuclear power plant is so objectionable. We invented the bloody things.

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  2. Eric,

    Are you saying that New Zealanders invented nuclear power stations?



    LGM

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  3. Cause they didn't.

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  4. I'm saying we invented splitting the atom...

    ...cause we did :-)

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  5. Eric, Lord Rutherford DISCOVERED a few fundamental facts about the structure of the atom. He hardly INVENTED nuclear power plants.

    And it is a bit of a stretch to extend his discovery to a "we" implying that New Zealanders as a whole can claim his achievements.

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  6. Citigroup has a paper out on the cost/economics of building a nuclear power station. It simply is not an option in NZ - the cost is too great and the population is too small.

    NZ has been on global high risk alert because of our power supply problems for the last 6 months.

    Pressure is building on the govt from offshore to actually do something.

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  7. New Zealand is too small?

    Compare a conventionally powered aircraft carrier or sub being fueled up to a nuke powered carrier/sub. One takes days pumping tonnes and tonnes of heavy black oil through a pipe, the other a guy walks up the gangway with a brief case handcuffed to his wrist. Then compare NZ or just Auckland to a sub. Why dosen't it work out?

    Warwick

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  8. Yes, I think while there should be no ban on nuclear, the truth is that the economics almost certainly rule it out. The two strangleholds on generation are:
    1. RMA
    2. Government policy heavily restricting CO2 emitting generation
    3. 3 of the major generators are government owned and lack capital, as does Transpower.

    In the past the Ministry of Works was driven by engineers wanting to build new power plants, constantly. Now there are profit oriented generators that are starved of capital and face a leviathan of planning restrictions. As long as property rights are respected (and that does include air quality) then generation should be built where/when it can produce a worthwhile return on capital.

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  9. More importantly, the energy cost of extracting and then shipping the fissionable material to New Zealand outweighs the energy such a station in New Zealand would generate. Nuclear is just not physically feasible in New Zealand.

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  10. "More importantly, the energy cost of extracting and then shipping the fissionable material to New Zealand outweighs the energy such a station in New Zealand would generate."

    I'd love to see the source of information you used for that claim, Anon. Do tell.

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  11. Small countries like Slovakia and Finland have nuclear power plants. As for the cost of extraction, up to 40% of the world's uranium lies just over the ditch:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_energy_policy

    So sick of the naysayers holding us back.

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  12. "As for the cost of extraction, up to 40% of the world's uranium lies just over the ditch".

    Considering the current governments obsession with "leaving nature untouched", I wouldn't be supprised if there were deposits right here.

    Then again I am not a geologist.

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  13. Uranium is one of the most ubiquitous of metals.
    If you live in a clay area like Auckland there are a couple of kilos in your own backyard.
    However, concentrations worth mining are more limited. The West Coast iron sands are a local resource but would not be cost effective until Australia has mined out its own dirt cheap concentrations.
    But we would never run out of Uranium per se. But then we never run out of anything - it just gets too expensive.

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