Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Zealanders Won't Be Talking About Nuclear Energy in 2007

Why? Because the Royal Society of New Zealand wants to talk about clean coal instead:

New Zealand's nuclear naysayers can rest easy this Christmas in the knowledge the nuclear power issue is off the agenda for next year.

Some of the country's top scientists at the Royal Society of New Zealand have been considering whether the society should promote a public debate on nuclear-generated electricity.

But the society's council has opted instead to endorse a discussion on clean-burning coals.

Chief executive Dr Steve Thompson said the change of mind was not a result of any political pressure.

"We thought another topic might grab the public more. They wanted to do something that was more immediately applicable to New Zealand. Nuclear power, if we did it, would still be a long way off," he said.
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robert merkel said...

Hate to be a party pooper guys, but there are pretty valid reasons why New Zealand won't be using nuclear energy for a while.

New Zealand's total electricity needs amount to an average output of roughly 4500 megawatts, and they already get roughly two-thirds of their energy from renewables (hydro and geothermal), and much of the rest from natural gas. Coal makes up only about 3% of their electricity consumption.

Under those circumstances it's hard to see how large scale reactors could be competitive, even ignoring political factors.

Randal Leavitt said...

As the planet bakes dryer and dryer each year it will be interesting to watch different countries cling to their desperate hydro-electric systems. I wonder who will stubbornly hang on the longest?

Rod Adams said...


I understand your point about the small size of New Zealand's grid, but that does not mean that they should avoid talk of nuclear power. The technology for smaller scale plants is well understood and there are a number of vendors with interesting projects underway or near deployability.

Of course, my favorite design is the Adams Engine (TM), but there are also the barge mounted designs based on Russian ice breaker engines, the CAREM plant being designed in Argentina, the Chinese HTR's, the South African PBMR, and the Toshiba 4S.

Some or all of those might be able to give natural gas some competition.