Dis-claimer: Please do NOT take this thread as a Government bashing thread as it is not meant as such.
OK, it is nearly winter here in New Zealand, there is talk of black-outs, if we "don't save power".
There are 3 schools of thought here in NZ with respect to saving power:
Pensioners: These folks will do the hard yards and freeze to help the country out, using the most minimal power that they can. They are also the least likely to complain about power outages.
Home-owners: These people are neither here nor there regarding power savings, they like a nice warm home and will light their house up like a Xmas tree, if it means personal security.
Students and the Un-employed:Hey, you have money to burn, who cares until the power account comes in? Life is good, but don't you dare cut our power off if we don't pay our bill, it's only NZ$400, what's the problem? Don't hassle us for having one hour showers or heating the lounge with the wall oven on fan bake.
As an Electrician, I seem to think that there is NOTHING being done in this country for increasing actual capacity. I would like to see the Government get all the way out of electricity generation, it has held us back since the 1950's. The idea in this country that Government knows best and can manage our resources, is just wrong. Every year (I think I bought this up last winter) we have a shortage of electricity and it is us in the South Island that suffer. Why has this not been addressed, or fixed? We have colder temperatures down here, yet the 500kV DC link still sends power north, even though the lakes are nearly dry down here.
Sorry, I forgot that we have the Resource Management Act, that makes REAL business tell folks that they are going to install power plants or Dams near their places. Project Aqua down here died a death, because they said they would need land and water resources to effect this project. They offered good compensation, NZ$1-2million per property. All we heard was whinging from a few empowered folks that said "no way!" It's just like the upgrade to 400kV here, no-one wanted it, but everyone complains if the power goes off. NIMBY.
I'm with you. I make no forced effort to conserve electricity because I work hard to live in comfort. I earn the right to be warm in winter and cool in summer. If I pay for it, I deserve to have it. Oh, sure I'll turn off lights in unused rooms, etc., but that's about as far as I'm willing to go.
Windmill farms are good for "feel-good" generation and they make for good political feeling of accomplishment. In my area where a typical household requires a 200 amp service, that's a lot of windmills just to even attempt at simply supplementing the demand.
We've got a third reactor in the planning stages at our local nuclear facility (Lake Anna, Virginia). Of course it will be years before such a reactor will actually come on line, but at least the POCO here has the guts to get it in the works. Everyone here is so scared of political correctness. When this reactor does come on-line, it will hopefully mean more jobs, more stability to our local income and our ability to continue to enjoy low electricity rates.
Solar? Great idea for domestic hot water heating, but that's about it. Don't get me wrong: That does save a lot of energy and the cost for solar water heating is much lower than trying to generate electricity from it.
Hydro? Mother Nature is practically begging us to utilize this free resource, but the politicians have to make sure that we don't harm the "fishies". I assure you, the fish will adapt; wildlife is a lot smarter than we think.
As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I think there is a lot of untapped Hydro potential, especially in places where there aren't any fish runs. Of course, some of them are pretty remote, but there's a lot of untapped kinetic energy going to waste.
The thing that gets me, is that a lot of the power for the Portland area comes from fossil fuel-powered plants. Not because there are a lack of hydroplants, but because most of the power that's being generated along the Columbia is sent via HVDC along to California. I don't particularly like being the battery for LA, since all the money goes to the Federal Government (DoE/Corps of Engineers). Let them build their own plants.
It's been a while since I last posted. Seems to me that most gummints have too few neurons connected and even fewer ideas as to where to go next in a power starved world. If you want to solve the problem, do it for yourself! A kilowatt saved is a kilowatt generated and there are lots of ways to achieve this. Mainly by re-insulating your home, using low-energy bulbs, eating salad etc.. Geothermal using heat pumps should be first choice for home heating. With a COP of 4, a geo system will be at least 50% cheaper to run compared to oil or gas, even at poco day rates. A 'canadian well' of modest proportions, say 100 yards of 8" pipe buried 8 feet down and used to provide the home ventilation air after filtering will effectively generate 3kw, free. Coupled to a double-flux fan unit with heat exchangers, it can also unload an air conditioner in summer to a similar output and save a further 3kw. The way you drive an automobile can save a small fortune in fuel. Get your foot off the loud pedal as much as possible, [ in fact, why not paint a $ sign on it as a gentle reminder!], accelerate gently, drive slower, anticipate where you need to slow and cruise to stop with minimal braking. That will knock at least 20% off your gasoline/diesel bill- in my modest case a cool $500 a year. [Gasoline here is now about $8 a US gallon.]
I'm a firm believer in geothermal heat pump systems. So simple, yet so complicated. My uncle installed one of these systems in his house when he built it in 1975. The reason that these systems are not popular is:
Natural gas and propane providers offer incentives to builders to build houses that use their products. So, the builder gets a $600.00 kickback from a gas provider or spends $3,000.00 more to install a G/T system as they build the house. Want to take a guess which choice is made?
Until we get big business out of government this problem (among others) will never go away. There needs to be a ban on political contributions of any kind for any reason. Political contributions are bribery. No PACs equals no special interests and no high price campaigns. It would be the duty of every news organization to cover the political candidates positions with equanamity and even-handedness. When politics is no longer the sure-fired route to riches and power, then the purely civic minded can come into their own. What would it be like if our leaders decided what is best for the people as a whole, not what is best for my party, or worse, what is best for those who pay for my re-election campaign?
Look back at the newspaper reports and other contemporary materials when Calder Hall (Britain's first nuclear power station) opened in the 1950s, and you'll see that they are almost all entirely positive. There was talk that within a a couple of decades electricity would be so cheap to produce that it wouldn't be worth metering it any more, we'd just pay a flat-rate for the service.
Boy, how attitudes changed so much between the late 1950s and the 1980s, when plans for further nuclear plants were severely curtailed.
A few miles from here is a 10-turbine windfarm which generates about 2MW for the grid. Plans for expansion have resulted in many objections. A little further at Scroby Sands (near Great Yarmouth) there is an off-shore windfarm of about 60MW capacity which has been in service for a few years now. That too has riled many of the "green" brigade, despite the fact that the turbines are a couple of miles out to sea and thus don't create any noise problem or "spoil" any view but water and horizon.
Yet in my experience, many of the people who object most vocally to these sort of projects are most upset if you suggest that they'll will have to start using less power. They want their electric-powered tea stirrers and their dozen TVs, VCRs, and everything sitting there on standby 24 hours a day, yet they seem to think we can just snap our fingers and magic up energy from thin air. Many of the objectors don't even live in the area anyway.
Wind power = Spoils the landscape, noise, might upset the lesser-spotted red-crested warble-thrusher on its annual migration south.
Nuclear = Three Mile Island, "The China Syndrome," your children will glow in the dark, yada yada.....
Solar = Ugly panels reflecting off the landscape, takes away land which could be used for growing bio-fuel crops (boy, ain't that another issue?!).
Coal & oil = Don't you care about the planet?
So just where are we supposed to get all the energy from then, given that we're not quite at the stage of being able to build a Dyson Sphere and harvest its energy yet?