Putting oil companies on trial

 It is a peculiarly American approach to problem solving – find yourself a judge and head off to court.  So, little surprise then that James Hansen, who I’ve devoted a bit of time to this week, is calling for the CEOs of large oil companies to be put on trial for ‘crimes against humanity and nature’, because of the way they have undermined public understanding about about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies hid the links between smoking and cancer.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: “When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that’s a crime.”

It’s interesting that some of the misinformation about climate change that big oil companies have been using has stemmed from individuals and organisations based here in New Zealand – our little climate denial claim to fame.  Hansen says the science is now 99 percent certain and urgent action will be needed from the next US president, analogous to the effort Kennedy invested in going to the moon, if we are to bring our global concentration of CO² equivalent from 385 parts per million to the necessary 350.

78 thoughts on “Putting oil companies on trial

  1. could someone tell me why the green party is (still!) pimping the bio-fuels chimera..?

    0.5% a feckin year..?

    with the main polluters being 90% subsidised untill 2018..

    w.t.f.is to like about any of that..?

    why aren’t you focussing on ‘what works’..?

    in america conversion kits for cars have gone on sale..

    turning petrol cars into hybrids..(doubling mileage..and better..

    and how about promoting/fighing for solar/hydrogen..?

    the ‘clean ones’..

    you see our ‘solution’/future as boiling/processing the grease/fat we cull from the animals we cruelly abuse..?

    what a ‘green’ vision..!

    eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  2. Lord Winston (not Peters) was on Close Up last night and Nine to Noon this morning and (among other things) he thought we had a silly attitude to GE and Nucleur Energy.

  3. >>calling for the CEOs of large oil companies to be put on trial for ‘crimes against humanity and nature’,

    And the M00n-unit Award, 2008 goes to…

  4. >>we had a silly attitude to GE and Nucleur Energy.

    Yep, and he’s right. Nuclear, and other fission, is the non-polluting future beyond oil.

    Hopefully we’ll soon see an end to anti-GE and anti-nuclear ludd**es as the world energy and food problems escalate.

  5. Now BP, given that NZ would need two nuclear power stations (because they go down for maintenance on a regular basis), and that they both have to have the turbines running (to cover for an unexpected outage) what do you propose we would do with the vast amounts of electricity that would be generated that we have no need for?

    Given that Lord Winston is a Labour peer and Government whip in the UK House of Lords, does this really surprise you BP, given that Labour in the UK proposes to campaign on the four Fs – Fuel, Food, Family Finances, and Fission!

    There is no case in New Zealand to go beyond the first three of these.

  6. “Lord Winston (not Peters) was on Close Up last night and Nine to Noon this morning and (among other things) he thought we had a silly attitude to GE and Nucleur Energy.”

    Fair enough – I think the British aristocracy have a silly attitude to lots of things, but I don’t expect them to take any notice.

  7. > Hansen says the science is now 99 percent certain and urgent action will be needed from the next US president, analogous to the effort Kennedy invested in going to the moon, if we are to bring our global concentration of CO² equivalent from 385 parts per million to the necessary 350.

    That’s pretty funny. Given that most of the emissions come from countries where petrol is actually subsidised, what exactly is the president supposed to do? Invade?

  8. >>Now BP, given that NZ would need two nuclear power stations

    No it wouldn’t. Use hydro as backup.

    >>what do you propose we would do with the vast amounts of electricity that would be generated

    Drive down our energy costs and power our non-oil using vehicles.

    Win-win.

    >>There is no case in New Zealand to go beyond the first three of these.

    I comfortably predict we’ll be using fission of some sort in the next twenty years, especially if the c02 con persists.

  9. Yeah, what exactly would the ‘crime’ be? How the hell do you prove that people were not just mistaken instead of lying? Is lying even a crime outside of a courtroom? Methinks this would require a ton of internal memos…

  10. BP – I don’t get it. You are saying that nuclear would drive down our energy costs.

    The information I’ve seen would indicate that nuclear would drive electricity costs up – substantially!

    What information do you base your argument on BP?

  11. >>What information do you base your argument on BP?

    The lack of oily stuff.

    Factor in the amount we presently spend powering cars…

    Reactors are coming down in price. Thorium, 4th gen, even this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hahn

    Time to get your heads out of the 1950s, guys…

  12. “Does this make a large-scale ADS reactor viable? CERN thinks so. It recently released a detailed report covering the financial viability of the ADS design for power generation, and found it to be at least three times cheaper than coal and 4.8 times cheaper than natural gas. Any nuclear reactor will have a high establishment cost, but CERN stresses that a long-life reactor will be highly competitive compared to fossil and renewable energy fuels.”

    Safe, cheap, low pollution power.

    Like I say, energy isn’t a particularly difficult problem. The technology is mostly here already, so you can stop your boring gloom and doom predictions :)

    Broom, broom….

  13. BP, I think I’d prefer to rely on Moody’s Investor Services (quote from my previous link to Futurepundit):

    “While utilities reportedly have priced the cost of a kilowatt of nuclear power at $3,000 to $4,000, Moody’s Investors Services said in October that a more realistic price would be $5,000 to $6,000. That puts the cost of a 1,500-megawatt nuclear plant at about $9 billion, according to reports.”

    rather than the Radioactive Boy Scout or Cosmos Magazine for advice on energy investment decisions.

    About $2000 for wind, as a comparison, btw.

  14. I’m not against wind, I just think we’ll end up with a mix, and fission will be part of that mix.

    4th Generation cost is coming down all the time. As noted above, CERN puts the cost at lower than renewable.

    If the costs of running the technology is lower, and if the safety aspects are sorted out, and if they emit less c02, then what is the problem?

  15. BTW: Have you read MacKay’s latest report?

    Details here:

    theregister.co.uk/2008/06/20/mackay_on_carbon_free_uk/

    UK problems and solutions, but some interesting numbers in there.

    Full report here:

    withouthotair.com/

  16. “For a man of his leanings — MacKay is a fairly hardcore pacifist, and more than a bit of a tree-hugger — he’s refreshingly open-minded.

    We must not let ourselves be swept off our feet in horror at the danger of nuclear power. Nuclear power is not infinitely dangerous. It’s just dangerous, much as coal mines, petrol repositories, fossil-fuel burning and wind turbines are dangerous.

    MacKay concludes that nuclear scales up easily, and does so without dominating the country the way wind, solar, tidal and biomass do. The scale of engineering required, in terms of megatons of steel and concrete or areas of land and sea taken up, is enormously down on that needed by useful amounts of renewables.”

  17. “Then, too, there’s thorium — probably a lot more abundant than uranium, and likewise full of juice.

    Even MacKay admits that fast breeders and oceanic uranium together would power the entire human race at hoggish American levels for well over a thousand years, or at current European consumption for several millenia. He also says that known thorium reserves, used with current tech, would run the whole race at rich-westerner levels for several decades.

    There’s also a thing called a thorium energy amplifier reactor which would be a lot more efficient. If it works as its Nobel prize-winning designers predict, known thorium reserves would run six billion people at American luxury for sixty thousand years.”

  18. “You can see why he’s worried about getting that label, though. Worst case, assuming that only the known technologies work and only the known reserves exist, MacKay tells us that the entire human race could power itself — transport, domestic, industry, the lot — at hugely profligate American levels using nothing but fission for around a century. Since it’s unlikely that everyone will suddenly ditch fossil and ramp up to that level of use overnight, realistically you’re talking about at least a couple of centuries; longer if people only fancied being Europeans rather than Americans. It wouldn’t even cost much, compared to renewables.

    A pretty useful stopgap, then. And if any of the gambles pay off — oceanic uranium, new thorium tech or fusion — the human race can pretty much relax. We’re sorted for at least a millennium, by which point we’ll hopefully be mining other planets.”

  19. The Greeny option:

    “MacKay made no effort to cost plan G, but he offers maps and figures indicating the staggering scale of the engineering. Britain would be literally covered with — and girdled by — massive wind farms, tidal barriers and wave barrages, and every sizeable body of water in the land would rise and fall to the strange new tides of the national grid. We would have literally rebuilt the British Isles as a single mighty renewable generator, pouring concrete and erecting steel on a scale so far matched only by human habitation — industrialising the land and sea in a way that would make intensive agribusiness look like a wildlife refuge. And still we’d be importing power.”

  20. If you’re familiar with The Register, you’ll know they aren’t being entirely serious.

    Selective Toad.

    What about the rest? Remember, this report is from a greeny.

  21. BP, I’m not saying nuclear is not a viable option in some places. All I’m saying is that it is not here.

  22. My POV is that if the Aussies do it, we should too. They have loads of good places they can put a waste dump (like the already-contaminated weapons test sites) and the cost would be substantially cheaper if it was an Australasian reactor.

  23. >>I’m saying is that it is not here.

    But why, though?

    If the price point falls below that of renewables for a small thorium reactor, which looks increasingly likely over the next few years, then what is the problem?

    >>Australasian reactor.

    Not a bad idea, if the economics worked. i.e. undersea cable, I presume. Is that technically possible?

  24. Toad:

    “While utilities reportedly have priced the cost of a kilowatt of nuclear power at $3,000 to $4,000, Moody’s Investors Services said in October that a more realistic price would be $5,000 to $6,000.”

    And that’s with the economies of scale available to the US! It would be much more expensive in NZ because we would have to fund a huge percentage of total generation as back up that we would hardly ever use (i.e. one reactor would be the equivalent of about one quarter of NZ’s total supply, meaning we would have to build and maintain that amount sitting idle as back-up). We’re talking extremely expensive electricity.

    As the chair of the electricity commission has put it (cheers frog):

    “nuclear plants produce power about twice as expensively as the plants that have been built in New Zealand recently.”

    Wouldn’t count nuclear out in the medium to long-term (20-50 years), as it may be the only way to meet growing demand growth. Who knows, it may even be feasible to pump it through from Australia one day – provided the loss of electricity in transmission isn’t ridiculously high.

    Either way, energy will become much more expensive, and we will be forced to change the way we live.

  25. BP:

    “If the price point falls below that of renewables for a small thorium reactor, which looks increasingly likely over the next few years, then what is the problem?”

    Really? Last I saw thorium was still at the prototype stage of development. So if it’s ever commercially applicable it will be a long way off.

  26. roger,

    Yep. Thorium reactors are considered to be IV Generation designs and are unlikely to be operational before 2020 according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Sooo. Geothermal it is for baseload.

  27. >>amount sitting idle as back-up)

    Wind also requires huge backup, because sometimes it doesn’t blow.

    Likewise, the backup for fission is hydro.

    >>Either way, energy will become much more expensive, and we will be forced to change the way we live.

    You love that word “forced” don’t you? Very left wing. Personally, I have more trust in human endeavor. We’ve been idle since nuclear was branded “evil”. Time we poured money back into development, which is now happening.

    >>unlikely to be operational before 2020

    2020 ‘aint that far off. So we may as well forget the “save the world” nonsense, and burn some coal until then ;) Ten years c02 output won’t make any difference…

  28. “Sooo. Geothermal it is for baseload.”

    Yep – though that’s only projected to be 1000 Megawatts over the next 30 years or so (about 25% of projected demand increase).

  29. “Wind also requires huge backup, because sometimes it doesn’t blow.”

    Wrong. Wind requires integration, but no idle back-up.

    “2020 ‘aint that far off”

    Then you’ve got the consent process, and then building time …. In reality you’re talking 30 years, and then probably a further 20 years before it becomes a major source of energy. So Fifty years all up.

    Then you forget that there’s a significant lag in the effects of Co2 – i.e. the warming we’re experiencing now is a result of Co2 pumped into the atmosphere during the 1950s, so thorium won’t have an impact for another 100 years at best… time to think again Peter.

  30. “Time we poured money back into development, which is now happening.”

    So you want taxpayers money to be plowed into nuclear production in the name of saving them money and free enterprise!?! Isn’t that a little inconsistent? Nuclear power is completely uneconomic without massive State assistance. I think this statement by a Westinghouse official would sum it rather well.

    “If you were to inquire whether Westinghouse might consider putting up its own money.., we would have to say “No.” The cost of the plant would be a question mark until after we built it and, by that sole means, found out the answer. We would not be sure of successful plant operation until after we had done all the work and operated succes- sfully…. This is still a situation of pyramiding uncertainties…. There is a distinction between risk-taking and recklessness.

  31. Fission requires integration.

    >>time to think again Peter

    Unlike the WarmTroopers, I do think. And the unavoidable, inconvenient truth is this: nothing we do in New Zealand makes the slightest bit of difference to the temperature. The only (slight) value we offer is posturing at conferences.

    >>so thorium won’t have an impact for another 100 years at best

    Neither will solar, wind or sea. Might beat it by ten-twenty years, at best.
    Which is insignificant.

    Time to think again, Roger.

  32. “Yep – though that’s only projected to be 1000 Megawatts over the next 30 years or so (about 25% of projected demand increase).”

    Did those projections take into account the rising power prices, or is that not even an option due to political expediancy?

  33. >>So you want taxpayers money to be plowed into nuclear production

    I want a lot more R&D writeoffs, that’s for sure. New Zealand is way behind in R&D spending, but would rather hand that money to unproductive layabouts, middle management, and hip-hop tours….

  34. Peter:

    “Fission requires integration”

    You just don’t get it. Fission requires the equivalent of at least one plant (25% of NZ’s electricity) to be sitting idle 99% of the time. Wind requires non because you increase and reduce hydro output in accordance with wind output, so no generating infrastructure is sitting idle.

    “>>so thorium won’t have an impact for another 100 years at best

    Neither will solar, wind or sea. Might beat it by ten-twenty years, at best.
    Which is insignificant. ”

    Um no, wind is economic now (even compared with coal), so there’s no reason to not develop it. Sea and Solar will be more popular with the voter than thorium, so if they’re ever economically comparable, they will beat thorium out in the medium to long-term.

  35. Peter:

    “New Zealand is way behind in R&D spending”

    You’re talking billions of dollars of research (building a plant itself would cost many billion) – best let the big governments use their economies of scale. No point in us jumping into it.

  36. “Did those projections take into account the rising power prices, or is that not even an option due to political expediancy?”

    Not sure STH – got that figure from a report prepared by the MED.

  37. “nothing we do in New Zealand makes the slightest bit of difference to the temperature.”

    If draw $1000 a week using benefit fraud techniques, it will make virtually no difference to the amount of tax you pay, but would it be ethically right? No.

  38. >>No point in us jumping into it

    Agreed, but I was speaking about R&D spending in general terms.

    >>would it be ethically right

    Ethics now? Bit of a minefield. I could argue that New Zealand has done much to contribute to non-C02 emmissions by NOT having much of a population, unlike Britain, which has 60m +. Do we get credit for that?

    >>Fission requires the equivalent of at least one plant (25% of NZ’s electricity) to be sitting idle 99% of the time

    Why? When the plant is down for maintenance, use hydro. Maintain lake levels with this schedule in mind.

  39. BP:

    “When the plant is down for maintenance, use hydro”

    Risk management problem. Plants have to be shut down at irregular, unpredictable intervals. Which means you have to have enough spare capacity to cover that all the time. Not so with wind – i.e. the several thousand wind turbines aren’t going to all break down at the same time.

    “I could argue that New Zealand has done much to contribute to non-C02 emmissions by NOT having much of a population”

    That’s not an argument for free-riding. What we’ve accidentally done or not done in the past with regard to climate change has no baring on our ethical obligation to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

  40. a slight re-phrasing

    <blockquote?Plants have to be shut down at irregular, unpredictable intervals. Which means you have to have enough spare capacity to cover that all the timeand for an indeterminate period.

  41. Should have been:

    a slight re-phrasing

    Plants have to be shut down at irregular, unpredictable intervals. Which means you have to have enough spare capacity to cover that all the time and for an indeterminate period

    .

  42. uk_kiwi said: … if the Aussies do it, we should too. They have loads of good places they can put a waste dump

    Oh, goodo! That’s wonderful logic, like where Uncle Sam goes, we go.

    We’ve got to get past the mentality of having any sort of “waste dump” at all – not just for nuclear. Reuse or recycle as much as we can.

    Otherwise we just deplete the Earth’s resources, until there is nothing left.if the Aussies do it, we should too

    And at the moment I am unaware of any technology to reuse or recycle nuclear waste (other than building dirty bombs to poison untold thousands more civilians than chemical weapon deployment such as Agent Orange and napalm did in Vietnam and some of Saddam Hussein’s US sponsored chemical weapons used against Iran did – before the US changed sides).

    So unless you come up with a viable option for dealing with the waste uk-kiwi, I’d suggest you don’t go there. Just dumping it in an already contaminated (but slowly recovering) site aon’t a good look.

    And, as I think I have made clear above, given BP’s lack of a credible response, nuclear technology is just not economic for New Zealand anyway.

  43. BluePeter Says:
    June 24th, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    > Ethics now? Bit of a minefield. I could argue that New Zealand has done much to contribute to non-C02 emmissions by NOT having much of a population,

    nonsense. we have the same population as any other group of 4 million people – why should we expect to have more right to pollute just because we’re spread out over a larger area?

  44. >>ethical obligation to be part of the solution

    We can’t be part of solution, because we’re not part of the problem.
    It’s like a flea thinking she controls the dog.

    A sense of perspective is required.

    What we can do, however, is devise technology to help mitigate the effects, such as plants that will grow well in water deprived climates.
    Identify the areas where we can help the most, and direct our efforts accordingly.

    >>why should we expect to have more right to pollute

    Because our combined output is lower than countries of similar size.
    Kyoto is structured on a country by country basis. That is the frame of reference.

    >>BP’s lack of a credible response

    The fact you choose to ignore my references is hardly my fault.

  45. Blue Peter,

    I think you will find that the Greens tend to be cooperative, and therefore interested in “the spirit” rather than just “the letter of the law”.

    As far as clean energy is concerned, AotearoaNZ must make sure it does its bit as a responsible global nation. If we fail at that, we must be prepared to pay our way.

    Your repeated faith in Nuclear Energy is NOT a safe idea for these “Shaky Isles” upon which we live!

    With our enviable bounty of renewable energy, large and small scale, current and potential, plus a more frugal attitude, we would have no need to go there anyway!

    I suggest you read more widely on th subject.

  46. BP said: It’s like a flea thinking she controls the dog.

    But that’s where you miss the point BP.

    1000 flees can control the dog, or at least seriously disrupt its intentions!

  47. All very nice, however its not going to work, the end of life as we know it is near because you people are all too greedy.

  48. Blue Peter writes

    “Problem solved.

    Next.”

    I vote he gets the Moon-Unit award for thinking any problem such as this is simply solved.

  49. more evidence as to why the lies/’spin’ of the likes of owen mcshane must be called for what they are..

    (putting ‘politeness’ to one side..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  50. nome

    “Wind requires non because you increase and reduce hydro output in accordance with wind output, so no generating infrastructure is sitting idle.”

    So why is Contact planning two 100MW peaking gas plants to back up its planned wind generation as reported on Morning Report today?

    Where is all this hydro going to come from. We already maximise our use of hydro so that implies either that more will be built or that it will effectively sit idle. If so, what will the demand that idle hydro isn’t meeting?

    Yes wind and hydro ‘could’ work off each other to improve effectiveness but it is not a simple substitution as that may not always be practical. It may also be wasteful and lead to hydro spill. It may also compromise system security. Wind needs warm reserve spinning or ready to go as it can trip off very quickly over a wide area.

  51. >>“New Zealand is way behind in R&D spending? . . . .
    best let the big governments use their economies of scale. No point in us jumping into it.

    Exactly the statement I would expect from a freeloader!

    Not ‘let’s join with others’, not ‘lets see what contribution we can make’, not ‘let’s see if Kiwi inginuity can come up with something safe and economic’!

    No!

    “let the big governments use their economies”

    Worse than crass, despicable!

  52. I think that people here have got the regulation of electricity a*se backwards.
    Why in god’s name does the government regulate the electricity industry with an aim of selling more electricity so as to control its price, when they should reward the companies (including those State owned) for reducing demand, which as a result will cause the price to fall. Isn’t it rather peverse?

    Electricity is probably THE most regulated industry in the country and yet the very intent of the regulation is counterproductive.

  53. I’m not buying the line that NZ is too small for nuclear power, as can be seen from this site Lithuania generates 80% of her power from one reactor, Sweden generates 50% of her power from 10. Sweden only has double our population.
    If we need to dramatically reduce our oil consumption (and we do need to) electrification of our transport network is about the only option. Nuclear is arguably the only serious reliable baseload option available for supplying the huge increase in demand that this would cause.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf01.html

  54. big difference Andrew is that Lithuania and Sweden are interconnected into the the European grids so can export excess power and use imports for reserves, so they can have their eggs in one basket. We can’t, hence the concerns about scale.

  55. Fair point Insider, but if you look at the list of reactors here you can see that there are plenty of smaller reactors, down to 50MW capacity.
    I suspect that NIMBYism has been a significant reason for the relative popularity of larger reactors amongst power producers, better to upset a few people with one big station than lots of people with several smaller stations.

    Also if you have a big population to supply you build bigger stations, in NZ we might need smaller stations so we would build them smaller.
    The claim that smaller stations can’t be built, or are far less economic is a myth.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_power_plants_of_Europe_and_CIS

  56. BluePeter Says:
    June 24th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    >>we had a silly attitude to GE and Nucleur Energy.

    Yep, and he’s right. Nuclear, and other fission, is the non-polluting future beyond oil.

    Hopefully we’ll soon see an end to anti-GE and anti-nuclear ludd**es as the world energy and food problems escalate.

    There is no need for extra power (especially nuclear) unless we increase the population of NZ.

    Why would we allow the population of NZ to increase if it meant a continual search for new forms of power, including embracing the folly of nuclear?

    Why commit to selling out the future of our great-grandchildren??

    This whole discussion needs to be re-oriented towards identifying a population figure that NZ can support with it’s available ‘green’ power sources.

    If you can’t identify such a figure, then you are simply committing to rushing headlong toward a resource blowout.

    Dumb.

    And don’t tell me nuclear is ‘clean’. That reminds me of the Bette Midler song: “from a distance etc etc…”

    ie: if you take a short term view, nuclear looks clean..”look at the French”…but then that is only a 30 year perspective. It is only 60 odd years since Germany’s armies were marching across and despoiling the European landscape. Any acceptance of nuclear has to be built upon a belief that humanity has suddenly grown a brain and overcome hatred and conflict. Yeah right.

    Sorry Blue Peter, but no matter how correct you might be about the mechanics of nuclear, you are totally wrong about it being a safe and acceptable alternative.

  57. Very few of the still operating nuclear reactors on that list were smaller than 400MWe, and I don’t recall seeing any newish reactors smaller than 400MWe either. Economies of scale do apply, which is why most new reactors are 1GWe or bigger.

    Trevor.

  58. Various estimates put the geothermal resource at about another 1000MW for a total around 1500MW. What is often overlooked is that this is an average value. If we have the plant and the wells, we could generate 2000MW for 50% of the time. Historically geothermal plants have run at very high capacity factors because they can, and because there has usually been demand for the power. As intermittant generation (wind, wave, tidal and solar) and run-of-the-river generation increases, there will be increasing periods when we don’t need 1500MW of geothermal power. The heat in the rocks can be saved for when we do need that power. At least one geothermal plant is already running only during peak times due to resource limits. It makes more sense to do this that to generate the power at night in the North Island and send it south, then use South Island
    power at peak times in the morning and evening sending it north and losing x% each way. Essentially North Island geothermal could be built up and used to smooth varying supply and demand in the same way South Island hydro does.

    Trevor.

  59. Another problem with nuclear fission is finding and keeping the skilled engineers required to keep the plant(s) running safely. Other countries are going to get nuclear fission so we will be competing with them, for both the technology and the personnel. For an example of what can go wrong when the people at the controls do not have sufficient training, see C——-L.

    Trevor.

  60. Actually if we run our existing plant at only 50% capacity factor and duplicate it, we could generate 3000MW of geothermal power for use when the wind isn’t blowing.

    In this respect, geothermal might be a very good complement to tidal power.

    Trevor.

  61. Greengeek, at the moment the economics of biofuels don’t look too good, so if we want to maintain our transport network it’s almost impossible to avoid some form of electrical distribution, to substitute the fossel fuels used in the present system would require (by my back of the envelope maths) something like 3-4000MW more generation, around the clock, and thats assuming a doubling of efficiency.

    Trevor, If the question is: Can Nuclear reactors of a size suitable for NZ be built the answer is yes!
    Other nations generally build bigger because that suits their requirements and politics.

    I like geothermal as an option and it needs to be pursued, but we shouldn’t rule out the nuclear options because we have a phobia about it.

    The scenario I don’t want to see is a global recession, turning into a global depression that just keeps getting worse

  62. Greengeek

    >>There is no need for extra power (especially nuclear) unless we increase the population of NZ.

    Yes there is. What are you going to power electric cars with when oil (supposedly) runs out?

    >>Why commit to selling out the future of our great-grandchildren??

    By ensuring they have power? Dastardly. Oh no, won’t someone think of the children!!

    >>If you can’t identify such a figure, then you are simply committing to rushing headlong toward a resource blowout.

    Incorrect. See point regarding cars.

    >>And don’t tell me nuclear is ‘clean’.

    Is is clean. And green. But if you want to ignore that objective fact, so be it.

    >>you are totally wrong about it being a safe and acceptable alternative.

    It isn’t safe driving a car. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t do it.
    If we need more power, and don’t generate enough, then society as we know it will collapse. Italy is scaling up, and the UK will, too. Even greeny reports are starting to recommend it as the sensible way forward.

    I’m not saying fission is THE answer. I’m saying it is AN answer.

    You’re dismissing it outright.

  63. Is is clean. And green

    Can’t help thinking that nuclear is not absolutely ‘green’, as it still requires a lot of mining, transport, and very horrible and inherently harmful waste – the waste issue being very far from green, almost as far as one can get. Just depends on how we’re willing to deal with/mitigate these issues.

  64. True. I just don’t like people throwing nuclear around like it ‘obviously’ is green without any qualifiers (which most have, yes), most especially the ‘waste’ one.

  65. BluePeter Says: It is clean. And green. But if you want to ignore that objective fact, so be it.

    >>you are totally wrong about it being a safe and acceptable alternative.

    It isn’t safe driving a car. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t do it.
    If we need more power, and don’t generate enough, then society as we know it will collapse. Italy is scaling up, and the UK will, too. Even greeny reports are starting to recommend it as the sensible way forward.

    I’m not saying fission is THE answer. I’m saying it is AN answer.

    You’re dismissing it outright.

    Oh Dear.

    1) I am not dismissing it outright. If we didn’t care about what sort of world we left to your great grandchildren, then obviously nuclear would be a great option. Over a short term period it looks very clean. (Pushing out of ones mind the waste issue of course).

    2) Comparing the folly of nuclear with the dangers of driving a car is simply minimising this issue. It deserves to be taken more seriously than that.

    3) My point was that population limitation MUST become the primary issue, otherwise the proliferation of nuclear power is a foregone conclusion, preceeded by the increasing use of coal in NZ (There simply is no other way)

    My hope is that rational people will confront the population issue rather than sidetracking the issue toward which energy source does the least harm.

    As you point out there is no truly green power source, but why use that as an excuse for accepting nuclear waste or coal smoke, when it is still a better option to limit population growth to the level that can be maintained by usage of the greenest of all of the power alternatives; whatever that choice may be (and New Zealand DOES still have other options). We still have some development of hydro yet to come, but it is a finite resource, and capable of sustaining a finite population.

    Do you want to keep growing the population of NZ until there is no choice but to pollute ourselves out of existence?? Why do you think people are so keen to leave China?

    Accept an unbounded concept of economic and population growth, and the whole debate about dirty fuel becomes moronic and fruitless. As you yourself said: “If we need more power, and don’t generate enough, then society as we know it will collapse.”

    See my point??

    The answer is not to accept the idea of an ever-increasing population (a concept on which our current economics tragically and foolishly rest), but rather to embrace the idea that we are smart enough to structure our society in ways that are sustainable, healthy, and preferably utilising cheap fuels that don’t pollute.

  66. Part of the problem of nuclear power for New Zealand is that it IS an attractive option for other countries. Expect the prices of nuclear technology and nuclear fuel to go up, particularly fuel. Already we have used up a sizeable fraction of the readily available good fuel, so now we are having to mine the more expensive (lower yield) ores. These other countries don’t have the same alternatives that we do, so they will be forced to pay higher prices to ensure they get what they need. We would be foolish to compete for these diminishing resources when we have good alternatives, particularly marine power.

    Trevor.

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