Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 10:24PM
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?
Have a good one.
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