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« 34 new nuclear plants required in the United States | Main | Your opportunity to store nuclear waste. »

How reliable is Hydropower?

NZ hydropower 16 June 2008
On Saturday night we had the privilege of attending a rugby match between New Zealand’s All Blacks and the Brits at Eden Park in Auckland. It was a super night despite my team getting beat and a wee drop of rain just to add to our despair.

The intermittent showers were a nuisance but there is an upside apparently as New Zealand relies on rain to fill the lakes that are used to generate hydropower. The situation at the moment is that these lakes are only half full due to the fabulous summer and very moderate winter that this country has experienced recently. A campaign was launched yesterday stressing the need to conserve energy due to the lack of water flowing into these lakes. At the moment the government are reassuring the public that all is well and there is no need to worry. Well that assurance is predicated on the rain arriving and arriving in the right place in significant volumes. However should the water levels continue to drop then this countries ability to generate sufficient electricity to meet the demand will be paced in jeopardy. Looking at the immediate shot-term it is raining at the moment but the authorities inform us that it is too early to tell just how much of this rain will get to the lakes. The demand for power is in the north island and the generation takes place in the south island with a loss of around 15% in transmission from the source to the user.

Taking a peek at the long-term possibilities the requirement for lots of rain is now on the ‘must have’ list. Without the rain electricity usage would have to be rationed and the possibility of rotational blackouts casts its ugly shadow across all sectors of the community.

In the discussions that we have had with our friends and colleagues there appears to be two schools of thought surrounding power generation. The first group would like to maintain New Zealand’s green image and find a solution that excludes nuclear power. However, with the immigration drive in full throttle the new immigrants will bring with them increased power requirements so a plan to accommodate these needs is required. The other school of thought is that the north island should have its own source of power generation, which could be nuclear generated. This is not a scientific study it is just based on general conversations as we have said, but it is interesting that the idea of nuclear power is not totally taboo and could form part of the energy basket going forward. If the rains do not come and fall on the right lakes then the reliability of hydropower will lose its attraction. The question now is does New Zealand wait and take the chance of being beat by the weather or does it go for the reliability of nuclear power now?

NZ Hydropower lakes 16 June 2008

Have a good one.

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Reader Comments (4)

Three words should have been added to your title - in New Zealand. I say that only because we who live in the province of Manitoba,Canada depend on water power for 100% of our electricity requirements,manage to sell quite a bit of power out of province,enjoy the lowest electricity rates in Canada and quite possibly the world, consider it totally reliable except for the odd disruption in various areas due to storms,have enough potential for future expansion by constructing additional dams and will never have to resort to nuclear power. While there may be many,many jurisdictions that will have to resort to nuclear power generation there are a few that don't. I should mention I'm heavily invested in uranium stocks,have no bias against nuclear energy but feel you should be clear when you put a title to an article.

June 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPat Walters

Pat, Your point is noted, thank you for taking the time to add your comments.

June 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUranium Stocks

Interesting info from both sides of the equator--if you folks had used a clearer title, the rest of us wouldn't have known that Manitoba is unlikely to be a client for the uranium produced in neighbouring Saskatchewan. Oh well. The Roughies will always beat the Bombers, and the Bombers will bomb (that's a commentary only Canadian Football League fans would catch, and also reveals that I'm a former Saskatchewanian; I add that, like Mr. Walters, I am heavily invested in uranium stocks and lament the drop they have taken since early 2007!) Nobody except me has given me a convincing theory re the drop; and since I don't know what I'm talking about, how convincing is my "convincing"? (My explanation, as all readers of this newsletter are sure to remember, was an eathquake in Japan followed by a slight leak to a nuclear reactor cleverly placed on top of the fault line.)

Finally, given the number of spelling mistakes, sorry I mean typos, in your latest newletter, you drowned your misery over the All Blacks' defeat in something other than lake water, so are not personally to blame for the low hydro levels (nor, I presume, the All Blacks' defeat).

By the way, France has just announced it will not go ahead with building a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. France is following the Canadian model in terms of how to get rid of dificit budgets, but in much more difficult cirsumstances, given current oil and related price increases. Fortunately, France remains heavily committed to nuclear reactors as its main source of electricity--and all its trains run on electricity. The more French folk who switch from cars to trains, the better for us uranium share-holders. May may other jurisdictions follow what must have been President Giscard d'Estaing's most important and useful decision. Cheers to your team and to Mr. Walters. -- Neil

June 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Bishop

Sorry--I gather the All Blacks won--the fact you talked in such detail about NZ made me think that you were Kiwis. The All Blacks are an imposing team--with their introductory dance, they could probably be a big hit even in non-rugby-free jursidictions like the USA.

Vanguard Shareholder Solutions just mailed to its subscribers a very interesting piece on uranium stocks, present and future, and the issue of u-mining friendly jurisdictions. Teh report talks a lot about the Fraser institute. Beware Colorado, said the mailing. Vive le Québec ! (ibid.)

June 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Bishop

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