What an odd title for an article

The New Zealand Herald ran a story yesterday titled ‘Fifth of NZers polled say nuclear power viable‘.  Putting aside the fact that nuclear power is economically unviable in New Zealand, I would have thought the title could have more accurately read ‘77% prefer wind as the best energy source, 69% solar’.  I suppose at least a title like that gives some corners of the blogosphere scope to let off some steam.

19 Comments Posted

  1. I should have thought that one through a bit more before posting.

    If the time travel idea worked, then the problem would have been solved for us back in the mid 20th century. And there wouldn’t be any problems now. Unless the green revolution was the solution that they took back with them.

    Bugger I may have just been the cause of all our problems.

    Although, if we went forward in time we could find out what eventually fixed the problem, and bring the solution back here.

    OK time travel is still the answer.

  2. More research into time travel is probably the best bet.

    Once the research into renewable energy and food that grows without nutrients in the soil has been done someone could go back to the mid 20th century and tell everyone about it thus solving the worlds problems.

  3. Ah, it was a measuring tool, though I would imagine it would work as a semi-inhumane methane capture device.

  4. Good point StephenR.

    Maybe they could poke the hose down the cows’ throats instead.

    That could make the expolsions a bit more messy if the back pressure was a problem though. I thnk we should shelve the hose idea for the time being.

  5. I’m not trying to be a smart a*se here Wangbo, but how do you get the methane from the cows to the storage tank?

    Do you just poke a long hose up the cows a*se or is there actually some other way that has been developed?

    Actually, on second thoughts the hose idea is a bit silly.
    The back pressure in the hoses might cause a cow to explode and then you might wind up with a “Cownobyl” disaster on our hands.

  6. At least they haven’t used the opinion pole as “key research”.
    I saw an add for nzwood which said using more wood was better for the environment. I took a look at the website and saw that they had actually done some research on it too.


    When I sent the following email

    I just have a couple of questions.

    What is the area of NZ forestry harvested annually?
    And what is the Area of forestry in NZ?

    and this was the response 3 weeks later

    Hi there

    Sorry for the delay in response – your email slipped through the cracks – I have forwarded your enquiry onto someone who can help

    It’s interesting that they “found” my email after I tried to post a comment on the website pointing out that the survey didn’t actually prove that nz wood was sustainable.

  7. Good effort wangbo, I liked the expressions “World’s Wind Warehouse? and “Mouth of the Wind? – they better stay away from ‘Saudi Arabia of wind though’, that’s En-Zed’s!

    The article is significant because of what Peter Neilson said:

    “I would have thought that if you had done this survey 10 years ago, you would be lucky to get three or four per cent in favour of nuclear power,”

    If true, that is quiet a jump! The title certainly is attention grabbing but the rest of the article is fine, i dont have a problem with it.

  8. But Frog, only Xinhua considers chirpy, upbeat, positive stories to be newsworthy.

    What I don’t understand about New Zealand is how our country can be sitting on such a phenomenal wealth of renewable resources and do so little about it. It’s not just wind, solar, hydro, tidal and geothermal, but all that cow effluent from industrial dairy farms, too- that really should be a good source of methane.

    And Toad, although I agree that coal is bad (and my lungs are really not happy with the “weather” we’ve been enjoying in Beijing lately), it’s about the only way to keep the lights on in China for the time being. The good news is the Chinese government is doing a lot about developing renewable energy. I translated a Chinese article about the development of wind-power in Gansu province here:
    And I linked to more good news of that nature here:

    I hope those two links don’t get me marked as spam.

  9. New Zealand can’t rely on wind power to be available to meet demand on any particular day, or even week. Over the longer term, it is more reliable than hydro.

    Unlike the UK, we have another even more reliable renewable energy source – geothermal. Due to the relatively high cost of geothermal plant, we tend to use it for base load generation, i.e. it runs at very high capacity factors. However some geothermal plant is run in load following mode, to take advantage of when the electricity price is higher. We can invest in more plant and use the available geothermal resource less of the time but harder when we do use it, and it would then complement the various forms of intermittant generation (wind, wave, tidal and solar) quite well.

    The Australians have also developed a way to make wind more reliable – the vanadium flow battery.

    We certainly don’t need or want nuclear power.


  10. hey Gerrit,

    Since we have no actual say on what the pollies actually do with our money the point is rather moot.

    “What is “adequate? knowledge anyway.”

    Well if they haven’t read the study on the viability and safety of South Africa’s proposed pebble bed reactor project or considered the extensive government intervention necessary to make any nuclear project even remotely viable then they don’t have adequate knowledge.
    It basically concluded that if the project goes ahead, South Africans might have to pay for “a series of expensive white elephants?.

    Peter Bradford, former commissioner of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, peer-reviewed Thomas’s report this month and found that the author understated the problems of the project

    Nuclear power would not be remotely economically feasible without substantial government intervention on behalf of the nuclear power industry, especially in the US. The US government pays for virtually all the nuclear industry’s R&D, production of fuels, enrichment, construction of infrastructure, disposal etc. In fact all facets on nuclear generation.

    “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 [Ibid. pp. 278-279]?.

    Its ironic that the neoliberals are so supportive of nuclear power they complain about government intervention so much.

    I gather they’ve never heard of price signals. if you want people to husband their energy use, how is providing more and more generating capacity going to solve the problem just because it becomes more expensive? The most important thing the market can do is provide feedback, which is what its meant to do, but intervention by corporates or the government just distorts the price signals.

  11. Got to love STH.

    “but only as long as they have adequate knowledge to allow them to make appropriate decisions.”

    Who is to judge that the general population has the “adequate” knowledge? Who will judge that the knowledge being presented is “adequate”?

    What is “adequate” knowledge anyway.

    And once we have established what is “adequate” knowledge, will there be a “test” to make sure that the general popoluation has understood the “adequate” knowledge?

    And who will judge, if the general popoluace makes a decision, if that decision will be “appropriate”?

    Sounds a load of pompous hogwash, STH.

    Mind you am not disagreeing that the fourth estate is totally useless.

    Just want to query who will be the abjuricator and judge for not just this decision but all others.

    Do you think we are adequately informed to go to the polls in November?

    Goes back to the question. Who judges we are well informed enough with “adequate” knowledge to make the “appropriate” decisions.

  12. Most New Zealanders aren’t qualified to know whether nuclear energy is viable or not. I’m all for the democratic process that allows people to participate more fully in the decision making process, but only as long as they have adequate knowledge to allow them to make appropriate decisions. The mainstream media continually fails to ensure that people are equipped to do so. I mean it appears that the media has an agenda here and will only pass on information that agrees with their preconceptions. The Fourth Estate is really in a poor state here in New Zealand.

  13. Bizarre! I wonder if the Herald would be taking the same line if they realised their power bill would increase by about 50%, which is the inevitable outcome of going down the nuclear option in NZ.

    It may be a better option than coal for China, but it is certainly not an option in NZ where we have heaps of potential to develop renewable energy resources that meet our medium-term electricity needs.

    Nuclear electricity generation for NZ would be extraordinarily expensive – and short of building a nickel smelter, we don’t have the need for it. Renewables will do us fine.

    I guess the only advantage of going nuclear is that the extraordinarily high price of the electricity generated would seriously promote energy conservation, which we’re struggling to do at the moment.

  14. With regard to tidal, the survey asks not what works, which a poll can’t give the answer to, but what is popular. Which is why the Herald story is so ridiculous; because the survey shows that nuclear power is deeply unpopular and renewables are very strongly supported, but the Herald headline is written in such a way as to suggest the opposite.

  15. I agree with Emarald that they should have included tidal power, even though the technology is not quite ready yet.

    But the wind comparison with the UK is fallacious.
    (1) New Zealand is windier than the UK, so our wind farms will generate electricity more of the time.
    (2) New Zealand has lots of hydro-power stations, which can change their output at a moment’s notice to balance out the changes in electricity generation from the wind farms. The fossil-fuel and nuclear power stations that dominate the UK market can’t do this without a dramatic reduction in efficiency, but for our hydro-power stations there is virtually no loss of efficiency, and no loss of generation capacity, because the water that doesn’t go through now cos the wind’s blowing is saved to go through later when it’s not blowing.

  16. That poll was a joke as the two best options for NZ, biomass and tidal, were left out of it.
    An attempt to rely on wind power in NZ will lead inevitably to a nuclear plant.
    The UK experience has shown this. A big push for wind to preempt a return to nuclear failed because wind has been found to be unreliable and expensive. The UK government then saw no options but nuclear or power cuts. So they have ordered a large number of new Nuclear stations.

    The US has new designs for small ‘turnkey’ nuclear stations in the 200MW – 1GW.
    These are ideal for NZ. If nothing but new wind power is installed in NZ before the next dry summer then the NZ government WILL order one of these. They will have no other option.

    To make my own view on this clear. Nuclear may produce good reliable power and be more eco friendly in the short term than wind but the long term environmental effects of nuclear fission plants are disastrous.
    Nuclear also shares with wind nearly 100% imported costs.

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