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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 27 July 2001

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


From: Dwayne
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Wind instead of Hydro power!

So far there is only one small 225kW wind turbine in
Wellington, and it takes a long time to get resource
consents to install more of them. No wonder we rely so
heavily on hydro power.

We should get 20% of all generation capacity from wind
where the return on investment depends on the location
rather than the installed cost because when it blows the
marginal cost is very low (compared to the average cost).
Of course Ms Helen is only thinking about gas fired
stations, but we need a wider range of generation capacity
than just hydro and thermal.

From: Rob K
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: power for Knowledge Based Business

Power is the lifeblood of a business.

My computer center serves a world wide customer base with a
high value logistics database. We can't afford to be down.
So we invest in redundent power, redundent air
conditioning, onsite 4 hour maintenance and high value
common repair parts and components.

An last week our provider of communications lost it for
approximately 20 hours and they didn't have any of those
things.  What to do? Ok, so it's written in their contract
to not do stupid stuff.  They did it anyway.  We're in a
position to not be able to change because they are one of
the few major players that can do EVERYTHING we need for
our longdistance dedicated lines and infrastructure

If it were up to me, we'd change today.  But it's not.  Now

From: Christopher Cookson
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Power crisis - another case of thinking inside the box.

I remember a couple of years ago when some enthusiastic person was telling
me how wonderful power deregulation here  and in California would be. They
were tied up with Amway or some such thing, and could see their wonderful
organisation being able to supply consumers with their every need, no
doubt at some exhorbitant price. Their gleeful enthusiasm for the demise
of public utilities has been proved rather unfortunate, both here in New
Zealand and in California. It seems we like to follow in the footsteps of
America when it comes to free enterprise carried to idiotic extremes, and
this has certainly been the case with power. The fact is some services are
simply better suited to being managed centrally, and while we should
always be concerned about getting good value for our money, SOEs, of all
businesses, ought to be publicly accountable, and for services as
essential as power, public accountability is far more important than
accountability to shareholders, who may or may not have any interest in
the service actually being provided. Of course, even if the electricity
industry was still fully publicly owned and geared toward delivering
power, rather than competing with itself, we probably would still be
experiencing electricity shortages. Quite simply there is not enough water
in the southern lakes to meet the demand. There's been lots of rhetoric
from various polititians about our need for a knowledge economy, and this
is a perfect example of where working smarter, not harder would solve the
problem. No doubt the government, and opposition will be trading blows
over who's responsible for why there's not enough power available, but I
suspect no one's actually thought about how we could use power more
efficiently. Just this morning, I was having a coffee with a client, and I
noticed that over the table where we were sitting, were ten incandescent
light bulbs of 75 watts each. The same lighting could be provided using
more efficient fluorescent fittings which would use around 15 watts each.
Of course they would cost more initially, but also come with a vastly
longer life expectancy. This was just one small section of the cafe.
Overall, the place was probably using around the equivalent of several
electric stoves going flat out, just to light the place. I suspect this
establishment is not unique. Another interesting thought is that the whole
reason the lakes are low is because of lack of rain. Lack of rain also
tends to mean reasonably extensive sunshine hours. Solar energy is
available, although expensive. On the other hand, the majority of New
Zealand dwellings have extensive north facing roofs , which when combined
provide a huge surface area for potential solar energy capture. Instead of
storing the energy, and using hazardous lead batteries, surplus energy
could be fed into the local community grid to feed business demands during
the day, and hydro power could be used at night, or during low light
conditions. Because most power would be consumed close to where it was
generated, losses during transmission would be vastly reduced. Who's going
to make use of this huge wasted energy resource? Probably no one, because
it's expensive to implement, and without government leadership, and shock
- horror, possibly some financial incentives it probably won't happen. New
Zealand could transform itself into an energy rich nation with power to
spare, with virtually no impact on the environment, in rain or shine, but
don't count on it happening. Sometimes, I think that for all their
rhetoric, polititians from all political persuations prefer New Zealand to
remain a poorly educated low tech peasant economy, as this makes it easier
for them to get re-elected.

Now Have Your Say

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