Thursday, September 15, 2005

More energy wonkery

Public Address has a guest column today by David Haywood, an energy engineer, in which he assesses the various parties' energy policies. It's good reading, but it also raises an interesting question: "why are the parties of the right so adverse to common sense energy policy"? I'd venture that it is because serious thinking about energy is associated with green-ness, and that "Green" is a dirty word in the business community. And so you get policies which are, well, thin; which ignore obvious cost-effective solutions like wind and easy efficiency gains;, which try to make expensive solutions cheap by ignoring their full costs; or which try to shoehorn everything into a fixed economic ideology. That is, when they're not gambling everything on finding oil or pushing nuclear simply in order to be "politically incorrect"...

The thing is, you don't need to be a green to think about energy policy - just look at Brian Leyland. But the association seems to be enough to damn the entire policy area to the fringes in right-wing parties' eyes.


Act supports nuclear as a potential policy not as one it would force on us as far as I know. It is rational to consider it on its merits so it is the left's perspective that makes me put my head in my hands even if I accept that nuclear is quite likely inferior to hydro power.
I note that the greens oppose the creation of hydro plants because hey might cause some nebulous problems for kayaking.
This is the sort of problem the green policy has - it mentions some of the issues but stands in its own way in dealing with them or proposes impractical solutions due to mixed goals.
Labour plays the roll of a central party - they can’t cause too much distress in an energy loving population. No hard choices but generally guiding in the right direction.
National is the classic opposition party - not really having a full response partly because they WILL have to enact policies and they don’t want to make promises they can’t keep BUT they don’t have power right now so they don’t have a full plans. Other parties can of course spout rubbish and never be found out.
NZ first seems logical but not much specific detail - I support that in theory - blanket rules are stupid - but it really doesn’t have any detail.
Progressives have far and away the best energy policy. Detail and sensibility combined in one. Showing a difference between me and the fellow at public address in that I prefer substance and "getting the job done" to "vision".
I note that left does indeed put more consideration into this area than the right. I expect the right is stronger on some sorts of economic policy (although I would expect labour to havethe most detailed policies).

Posted by Genius : 9/15/2005 07:58:00 PM

Excuse me for being un-PC, but I think we might have to bite the bullet and embrace nuclear power. There is a lot going for doesnt pump toxic crap in the air, and it produces a lot of electricity cheaply. Apparently a 100MW nuclear power station would provide electricity generation over and above the public need.

Sure, there a huge risks, but I think we shouldnt reject it out of hand.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2005 09:47:00 PM

go Millsy!

Posted by Genius : 9/16/2005 07:53:00 AM

Nuclear power presents some pretty damn serious issues with waste storage; paying for 10,000 years of vigilence in an earthquake prone country like ours is expensive for someone.

Where would you even put one? New Zealand has fairly serious NIMBY laws, the only workable option would be on one of the island reserves AFAICT; leaving it vulnerable to extreme weather if it's anywhere near Auckland, and still not all that as a secure backup.

Once you cover the normally hidden costs, nuclear simply can't come close to competing with even the most expensive renewable options. Something sensable like a modern solar hot water heater (or at least pre-heaters) on every roof should cover the requirements for less investment, particularly considering reduced line stresses into major cities.

Ultimately, what NZ needs is efficiency; better building codes, more use of on-site micro-generation (and metering that allows it to be fed back into the grid cleanly), heavy industry placed close to scource, and most of all some heavy handed regulation on generation (the dams must aim for maximum usable MW/year ahead of profit).

Posted by Anonymous : 9/17/2005 02:55:00 PM