Thursday, July 06, 2006

another intriguing question... no nukes, or ...?

i am very proud of our nation's stance against nuclear weapons - i think former prime minister David Lange was a legend to stand up to american foreign policy and his debate against jerry falwell on the topic was one of our proudest moments as a nation.
NOW - consider our modern times and reliance upon various forms of energy and power generation. if you take any notice of the news, you may be aware that we seem to face the threat of power cuts each winter and costs are constantly rising. gas is running out. damming rivers for hydro electric power destroys ecosystems. burning coal at power stations like huntly causes air pollution and big ugly holes in the ground. what about nuclear power generation? should we as a nation consider using nuclear energy to solve our energy problems? it may mean amending our anti-nuclear policy. is our proud anti-nuclear stance now out of date? did you have any idea part of our self image as a nation rested on this stance? remember, there is a big difference between nuclear power and nuclear armaments.
what are the pros and cons [for and against arguments] of using nuclear power IN NEW ZEALAND. Not anywhere else. I'm only talking about our situation.
I will post some urls to sites for info after i've done a quick search....

[you might also ponder - what does it mean to be a "KIWI"] you guys understand any of this?

Nuclear Energy Prospects in New Zealand
Briefing Paper # 97

April 2005


New Zealand is one of very few developed country not using electricity (indigenous or imported) from nuclear energy.
As hydro-electric potential was progressively utilised, nuclear power featured in national power plans from 1969 to 1976.
Concern about global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, especially coal, coupled with impending electricity shortages in Auckland, has put nuclear energy back on the agenda in New Zealand.


Background [see urls supplied by my cousin, the friendly spy]




Mr Woody said...

btw [by the way] - my brainy cousin the spy pointed out that i may have influenced you by stating my opinion about our anti nuke stance. rest assured i am someone who is considering the issue as worthy of discussion and possible amendment, even though i am proud of our history - things change and we have to be open minded and educated - not just opinionated. it is important to find out the 'facts', rather than listen to other people's opinions - even if it is your fabulous teacher.
remember - teachers usually know very little about the world as they tend to leave school go to uni then go back to school. except for me of course.

Robert Merkel said...

Mr Woody, while I in general support nuclear power as an option that deserves serious consideration, New Zealand has some specific issues with nuclear power that don't apply in much of the rest of the developed world.

The planned new reactors in the USA, Europe, and Asia are large, taking advantage of the economies of scale from being big. New Zealand's small, dispersed population doesn't really call for 1000 megawatt generators. As that article by the UIC says, New Zealand needs small generators, not big ones, and there aren't many on the market. If the PBMR design succeeds, there might be some more appropriately-sized options for New Zealand available.

If just one reactor was built to service the Auckland region, you'd have the problem of setting up the infrastructure to service the reactor and, notably, build a waste disposal facility, for only one reactor. Again, it's an economies of scale issue. If Australia goes down the road of a nuclear power program, and agreed to take New Zealand's waste for a fee, it might make more sense.

Mr Woody said...

marvellous - thanks for the feedback Robert - in reality, I don't have an opinion either way as i haven't investigated the facts. I merely post in order to stimulate thinking an ddiscussion amongst my students - it is more effective if you give them a position to argue for or against. Your input is just the sort of information my students need to be exposed to inorder to make up their own minds and be able to justify their positions. Thank you once again.

Randal Leavitt said...

Nuclear fission is the best energy source for a place like New Zealand. This energy source is inexpensive, simple, safe, and clean. Perfect for small places like islands and submarines. And many new approaches involve the use of small local reactors. Consider two examples:

And note that the spent fuel from today's reactors still contains more than 95% of its energy potential. Hang onto it - it is worth billions as a future energy reserve.

Mr Woody said...

Thanks Randal - it's interrsting to hear opposing views on a topic. It's important for my students to realise there is usually more than one valid argument on an issue. Just because someone says it or writes it on the internet doesn't mean it is true. We need to consider all perspectives then make up our own minds based on the best information we can find.

students - remember cyber safety. you need to be wary of 'posters' you don't know.
that doesn't mean you have to be afraid or suspicious of everyone and everything. just be careful.


Stewart Peterson said...

An Integral Fast Reactor might be perfect for such a situation--it localizes the entire fuel cycle onto one site, so that there is no need to invest in expensive external fuel cycle facilities. As a bonus, it produces no long-lived nuclear waste and is inherently safe--tests in 1986 simulated both the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents and the reactor simply shut itself down.

Notice how the PRISM concept is composed of 150-megawatt units, eliminating "too big for the grid" arguments (that any reactor shutdown would cause electricity shortages due to a lack of excess capacity to take up the slack).

Mr Woody said...

regarding energy alternatives:

Renewable energy not catching on

We are perfectly placed to use renewable energy, but we are still not doing it.

15 July 2006

We are perfectly placed to use renewable energy, but we are still not doing it.

A visiting international expert says it is crazy that we still rely on electricity, especially to heat our hot water. Dr Eric Martinot from the Renewable Energy Policy Network says New Zealand has so many options when it comes to renewable energy.

He says if China can have 10% of its population using solar energy to heat water, then we should be able to as well.

© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Mr Woody said...

and more regardin genergy use in NZ:

Electricity use put to the test
Jul 15, 2006

With colder than usual weather this winter New Zealanders are using more power than ever to stay warm, which is straining electricity supplies and our wallets.

So how do we save power?

One News asked an energy conservationist to put one household to the test.

Like any young couple, Emily White and Damon Stenhouse would like to cut their power bill, but as a typical evening at home shows, they are not very good at it.

[...go to the link below to see video relating to the article - cut and paste into your browser]

Ernesty said...

Nuclear power affects the eviroment greatly, and what if some mad man decides to blow up NZ with it?

The Paradise Man

Mr Woody said...

paradise - how does it affect the environment? be specific and give evidence.
also, how likely is it that a madman could blow up a power plant? are there more likely threats?

Sharaselle said...

Hey Mr Woody
I think you guys are very smart to tackle issues like these. Personally, I'm against nukes because of the devastating effects that come both before and after. I love the ideas popping up in your class, though I have trouble reading some of the words due to your way of spelling(Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a hopeless American!) Keep New Zealand Clean and Green!


Mr Woody said...

Great to hear your perspective, Sharaselle. And as for our spelling - beware - 12 yr olds don't hold it too dear to their hearts in this neck of the woods.

Mythril Saber said...

I think that the best type of energy is mighty river power because it is renewable enery that does not create bi-products.

I also think that, because there is a great energy loss through transporting energy through power lines to Auckland, there should be a small reactor in Auckland to power Auckland up instead of wasting power.

Mr Woody said...

Good thinking Sabor - what about the environmental costs of hydro dams? Can you list some?

Which higher order thinking tools could you use in class to organise your thoughts about these issues?

kenneth said...

you know i agree with Sabor, Hydropower is the most efficient way to generate electricity. Modern hydro turbines can convert as much as 90% of the available energy into electricity. The best fossil fuel plants are only about 50% efficient. In the U.S, hydropower is produced for an average of 0.85 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh). This is about 50% the cost of nuclear, 40% the cost of fossil fuel, and 25% the cost of using natural gas. it makes perfect sense to use hydro power, i don’t understand why the government is holding back.

kenneth said...

also each nuclear power plant costs between $3 to $5 billion just to construct. i think you'll find that the average dam cost alot less than that although i am still trying to find the exact price.

Mr Woody said...

thanks for the interesting comments, kenthian....who are you?
i think hydro power seems good except for the changing of environments and the blockage of waterways for wildlife.

kenneth said...

nobody i just came accross your convesation and thought i would contribute. hope you dont mind

Mr Woody said...

Kwnnwth - it is a pleasure to have your input - the kids will benefit form your additional facts.