Tidal Power

January 11th, 2010 at 1:25 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A tidal power station on the Kaipara Harbour seafloor could be providing power to a quarter of a million homes by the end of the decade.

The Environment Court has made a positive recommendation to Conservation Minister Tim Groser on a plan to generate electricity from the harbour’s swift tidal flow.

I think using renewable is the way of the future. That doesn’t mean I think we can or should transition there overnight, as if you suddenly switch off Huntly, there will be blackouts.

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35 Responses to “Tidal Power”

  1. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Is there an “alternative energy” option anywhere that stands up to real economic scrutiny?

    Or are the economics based on politically correct computer models that are underpinned by the necromancy and hysteria of crystal ball gazing “climatologists” and like sundry charlatans?

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  2. jaba (2,118 comments) says:

    great idea .. we have to do something BUT the MIMBY’s will be out in force. the Nats need to just do it.

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  3. Grizz (589 comments) says:

    Do not get too excited. It will never be built. Take the example of project Hayes. People will complain about it have a negative environmental impact, such as it erroneously destroying a snapper fishery or doing over a few dolphins.

    I used to get excited about the potential for new windfarms or renewable energy projects. Now I show little interest. Under current laws, the resource management hurdles are too great for most projects to get off the ground. It is easier to construct coal fired power stations in NZ than meaningful renewable energy projects with minimal pollution potential.

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  4. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Under current laws, the resource management hurdles are too great for most projects to get off the ground.

    http://www.windenergy.org.nz/nz-wind-farms/operating-wind-farms

    Who knows how many of these will be built, ‘appeal’ seems to be pretty much compulsory:
    http://www.windenergy.org.nz/nz-wind-farms/proposed-wind-farms

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Fuck all this mincing panty waisted crap. We mine coal and we burn it with the latest clean coal technology. Problem solved. Story ended.

    Good comment on wind farms-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6958093/Climate-change-the-true-price-of-the-warmists-folly-is-becoming-clear.html

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  6. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    With the all powerful RMA in place (but wait, yet to be amended/changed/modified/corrected by the Green fifth-columnist Nick Smith) initiatives like this will never be built in New Zealand.

    The discussion will go on an on for decades.

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  7. Dave Mann (1,200 comments) says:

    Why do you say that you think using renewable energy is the way of the future, DPF? Is this some sort of mantra you have been taught or something?

    Actually, the way of the future would seem to be huddling around the fire in a grass thatched hovel, if the Greens have their way. Given that I can’t even replace the glass in my window due to shitfuck “safety” regulations which govern every aspect of my life….. what earthly hope is there that anything will ever be built in New Zealand ever again?

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  8. anonymouse (709 comments) says:

    The quarter million homes figure is pure FUD.

    The max output of the full plant in 10 yrs time is rated at 200MW, over 250,000 homes this is 800 watts per home, not really enough to “power” a home.

    The westwind windfarm near Wellington is rated at 143MW and meridian claim it will run 70,000 homes, this is a much better 2KW per home, and if you take to total annual expected production of the plant at 573GWh and divide by an average household’s power annual power consumption, which is about 8000KWh, you get 71,625.

    So assuming it is the same efficiency as westwind, this underwater turbine installation will probably only really service 100,000 homes.

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  9. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    So assuming it is the same efficiency as westwind, this underwater turbine installation will probably only really service 100,000 homes.

    Not that I know too much about this stuff, but wouldn’t turbine efficiency be a different matter entirely to wind, relying on hugely consistent tides and all?

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  10. Alistair Miller (557 comments) says:

    Why do we need this? Do we not already get much of our power from renewable hydro resources? And why the hell don’t we just dig up some of that beautiful coal that is sitting around doing bugger all and burn it? If we’re squeamish about that, we could quid-pro-quo with the Aussies; give them some of our coal and they give us back some of their natural gas.

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  11. jaba (2,118 comments) says:

    just after the Carbonhagan farce finished, some clown on redalert announced that the nats were going to build nuclear power stations in the Nt and Sth Island .. I wonder if he and those who fell for it think now.

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  12. 2boyz (258 comments) says:

    Alternative thinking for secure energy supply is great but where it fall over for me is ‘could supply 250,000 house’. I would take the headline more seriously if it said ‘would’ even if it was 50,000 it’s still a reasonable number.

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  13. freedom101 (491 comments) says:

    We have to get our energy from somewhere. Interestingly, the proposed Mohikinui station, which would destroy a wild river, would only add enough new generation capacity to cater for 6 months growth in demand. Put another way, we would have to destroy two rivers a year to keep up with growth. Five years = ten rivers gone (if they exist!). I don’t support damming any more rivers except for maybe new dams on rivers already stuffed, like the Clutha.

    We have choices:
    – Limit NZ’s population (somehow, but who knows how) – growing population is at the heart of all environmental stresses and strains
    – Build coal stations, scrubbing C02
    – Much more geothermal (RMA is a complete show stopper here, coupled with ‘brownmail’ from the tribes)
    – Jack up electricity prices still further to force consumer-led efficiency gains (it’s still cheap enough that most people don’t worry about the monthly account – need to provide additional income protection for the poor though)
    – More wind (but it isn’t the panacea most people think) – RMA is a problem here
    – Solar hot water in all new dwellings (rate of return is reasonable when installed in a new house)
    – Continue and increase the home insulation programme via EECA

    One thing we must not do is to further destroy our rivers. They are an inheritance and part of NZ’s brand and tourism industry. Other countries have ruined their rivers, and they will never get them back.

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  14. chfr (126 comments) says:

    annonymouse, I live in the shadow of west wind (fortunately unaffected by the tumble dryer in the hills affect many in the village experience) and walk past the show turbine in Fisherman’s bay every day. It is amazing how often this turbine is not working either because there is too much wind or not enough. I seriously doubt it powers 70 homes let alone 70 000.

    The issue I have with this renewable enegry is the fact that it relies on unpredictable (in the case of wind) or natural (in the case of tidal) factors to generate power but there is no technology to store the excess for future use. If you do not have the method to store the excess power when it is not needed what do you do if there is no wind or tide when you do need it.

    The idea of powering a country by the tide is fine but what happens if there is a slack tide when everyone wants to cook dinner. I for one want to eat when I want not when the tide can generate my power.

    Get the storage technology right first then work on the generation.

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  15. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Why do you say that you think using renewable energy is the way of the future, DPF? Is this some sort of mantra you have been taught or something?

    At the risk of being obvious, fuel sources for non-renewable energy will eventually run out — by definition.

    I don’t know how far in the future “eventually” is, but it’s getting closer every day, so it makes sense to prepare for it.

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  16. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    One thing we must not do is to further destroy our rivers. They are an inheritance and part of NZ’s brand and tourism industry. Other countries have ruined their rivers, and they will never get them back.

    This project is tidal based (not mentioned on your list either), not a hydro project.

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  17. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Anything other than Coal/Gas fired or Nuclear power stations to compliment our existing Hydro stations will be a waste of time.

    Tidal/Wave/Wind farms are not the answer. They are, or will be, too expensive to maintain, and/or else have too low a ratio of power generation to capital outlay.

    I reckon that 800 years worth of coal on the west coast, used in clean carbon technology plant, has got to be the way for NZ to go – surely this is the common sense option.
    But, then again, since when have our politicians used anything approaching common sense?

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  18. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Tidal/Wave/Wind farms are not the answer. They are, or will be, too expensive to maintain, and/or else have too low a ratio of power generation to capital outlay.

    So why do companies keep building them?

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  19. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Stephen 3:06 pm,

    Tidal/Wave/Wind farms are not the answer. They are, or will be, too expensive to maintain, and/or else have too low a ratio of power generation to capital outlay.

    So why do companies keep building them?

    Because of the Green/Socialist/Political agenda (and associated incentives) to essentially bankrupt the West, and transfer wealth to the developing world and the UN IMHO. It all conforms to the overarching AGW lie which has these same aims, which ultimately ends in Global Governance funded by global taxation – among which will be ‘energy’ taxation.

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  20. Jack5 (5,007 comments) says:

    Build two small nuclear power stations close to Auckland, the main consumer.
    Two, so one could be down at a time for maintenance.

    This would save on the roughly 12 per cent transmission loss as we move power from one end of the country to another. It would stop the waste and eyesores of the huge new transmission towers marching through Auckland.

    Tidal power is still cutting edge. NZ is too small and poor to be at the edge of such new technology. When the engineering problems are proven solved and plants are running economically abroad would be the time to get into tidal power. Safe nuclear power is here now and offers less economic risk. It’s clean, too, and won’t chop up Hector’s dolphins.

    If you don’t think Greens and dolphins are problem for tidal power projects, look at what’s happened to our inshore fishing, with restrictions to protect Hector’s dolphins, such as clamping down on nets etc. This is devastating the inshore fisheries that for more than a century have provided kiwis with retail fish.

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  21. davidp (3,573 comments) says:

    >I think using renewable energy is the way of the future.

    The Danes have “invested” in wind power and have the most expensive electricity in Europe:
    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/04/08/wind-power-is-a-complete-disaster.aspx

    The Spanish have “invested” in solar power and found that for every green job created, over two jobs relocate to another country with cheaper power:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a2PHwqAs7BS0

    I think the way of the future involves cheap electricity that will support a growing economy and allow people to lead modern lifestyles full of labour saving devices and electronic entertainment. If renewable energy can do that, then great. But real world evidence doesn’t agree with green rhetoric.

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  22. emmess (1,419 comments) says:

    I am no expert but at $600 million to supply 250,000 homes (about 20% of NZ) this project would seem quite efficient to me

    Say with a return on capital of 10% per year
    $600 million * 10% /250,000
    = $240 per house per year

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  23. Dave Mann (1,200 comments) says:

    Actually, I have been mulling the ‘tidal power’ thing over and researching it on the net and I hate to admit it, but it OES seem to be a rather clever idea :-)

    It seems that you can either (a) trap all the water in a barrage and let it out through hydro turbines, or (b) you can plant huge underwater ‘windmills’ to run on the water movement.

    I guess (a) has the disadvantage of fucking up the Kaipara as a harbour and causing all kinds of silt problems. But (b) seems like a possibility at the harbour entrance. I was sailing on the Kaipara a few years ago and the tide race there almost washed me off to bloody Australia! It was vicious!

    Hmm…..

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  24. MT_Tinman (3,092 comments) says:

    I think, given certain safeguards to protect fisheries, recreational areas etc. it’s a great idea IF the taxpayer in no way finances it.

    Give it to a private corporation.

    Tell them, “Here are the requirements, here are the consents, here are the conditions.

    You build it and operate it and NZ will buy the power off you at a reasonable, competitive rate and if you fail or go broke we’ll happily pay your NZ workers the dole until they get another job – THOSE are NZ’s ONLY obligations.

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  25. Viking2 (11,346 comments) says:

    Now if wind turbines manage to make mincemeat of birds and they do what will it do to fish who are much more constrained in their movements.

    Minced dolphin anyone.

    Oh that’s right Doc will stop it, can’t have our rare and endangered dolphins being minced for the eels to munch. No that would never do.

    News headlines.
    Kaipara runs red.
    XYZ company today ran their sea turbines at the kaipara heads and thousands died causing the sea to run red.

    HMM. Well I can just see that happening. Its bloody hairbrained and another “give us your money and we will spend it wisely” bullshit job.

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  26. jackp (668 comments) says:

    No one mentioned the extra cost going to Maori for consultation or compensation. You might want to add another 100 million.

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  27. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Anything other than Coal/Gas fired or Nuclear power stations to compliment our existing Hydro stations will be a waste of time.

    Tidal/Wave/Wind farms are not the answer. They are, or will be, too expensive to maintain, and/or else have too low a ratio of power generation to capital outlay.

    Not true. Wind compliments hydro very nicely. When the wind blows the energy from the wind offsets the hydro and so the water waits. Hydro is good like that. You can turn it on and off very quickly. NZ hydro has relatively little storage, but it’s enough for wind and hydro to work together very nicely. The real limitation is in the grid capacity to move the energy around.

    The traditional argument is that wind adds energy and not capacity and that is true. However in NZ we’ve always had thermal backup stations for dry years (e.g. Whirinaki and formerly Otahuhu). Because wind adds energy and offsets hydro use it can be thought of as additional water, so the back-up thermal generation is used less.

    Tidal is completely predictable and therefore slots in even better with hydro.

    Redbaiter mentioned clean-coal. The problems that this technology addresses (NOx and SOx) aren’t really be a problem in NZ as we are a small wind-swept island in the middle of the ocean. Those pollutants cause problems (acid-rain, smog etc) in Europe and North America but in NZ they blow go offshore. Current clean-coal technology reduces the overall efficiency so you get more CO2 per unit of electrical energy.

    I was involved in the UK in a study of wave-power generation. It was based on three working wave-power machines and the long-run energy cost was not even close to economic (approx £1 per kW.hr). Wave-power is really a form of wind-power and is completely different from tidal-power.

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  28. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    So why do companies keep building them?

    Because of the Green/Socialist/Political agenda (and associated incentives) to essentially bankrupt the West, and transfer wealth to the developing world and the UN IMHO. It all conforms to the overarching AGW lie which has these same aims, which ultimately ends in Global Governance funded by global taxation – among which will be ‘energy’ taxation.

    Sorry Kris, that’s rubbish. Let’s say you wack up a wind-farm with 2MW machines and you’re a power company. Say a kWhr is worth $0.10 to you (probably more). Using the common figure of 30% for overall energy output (NZ is windy and typically gets more), you’d get 2000*365*24*0.3*0.10 = $526k revenue per year. Guess and say 100k maintenance/running costs per machine per year (probably less). So you get approx £400k profit per machine. If you’re looking for an excellent rate of return of 10%, then you’ve got about $4m per machine to invest (including common infrastructure etc).

    That’s well viable, and is why you see wind-turbines popping up all over the world. Tidal will be more expensive as anything offshore costs more, but the tides are completely predictable so your energy is worth more on the market.

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  29. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” Sorry Kris, that’s rubbish.”

    No, you’re the one producing rubbish. I personally doubt theire is one wind farm anywhere that produces power at a competitive price and provides a real operating profit to its owners. Take Denmark for example-

    Denmark (population 5.3 million) has over 6,000 turbines that produced electricity equal to 19% of what the country used in 2002. Yet no conventional power plant has been shut down. Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants must be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity.

    Most cannot simply be turned on and off as the wind dies and rises, and the quick ramping up and down of those that can be would actually increase their output of pollution and carbon dioxide (the primary “greenhouse” gas). So when the wind is blowing just right for the turbines, the power they generate is usually a surplus and sold to other countries at an extremely discounted price, or the turbines are simply shut off.

    A writer in The Utilities Journal (David J. White, “Danish Wind: Too Good To Be True?,” July 2004) found that 84% of western Denmark’s wind-generated electricity was exported (at a revenue loss) in 2003, i.e., Denmark’s glut of wind towers provided only 3.3% of the nation’s electricity. According to The Wall Street Journal Europe, the Copenhagen newspaper Politiken reported that wind actually met only 1.7% of Denmark’s total demand in 1999. (Besides the amount exported, this low figure may also reflect the actual net contribution. The large amount of electricity used by the turbines themselves is typically not accounted for in the usually cited output figures. Click here for information about electricity use in wind turbines.) In Weekendavisen (Nov. 4, 2005), Frede Vestergaard reported that Denmark as a whole exported 70.3% of its wind production in 2004.

    Denmark is just dependent enough on wind power that when the wind is not blowing right they must import electricity. In 2000 they imported more electricity than they exported. And added to the Danish electric bill are the subsidies that support the private companies building the wind towers. Danish electricity costs for the consumer are the highest in Europe.

    From-

    http://www.aweo.org/ProblemWithWind.html

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  30. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Redbaiter [January 12th, 2010 at 1:37 am],

    Thanks for the link, Red, very interesting and informative.

    I encourage you to read it, Malcolm.

    I really wonder whether NZ should go down the ‘Wind Turbine’ route when the rest of the world is in fact pulling back from it [cite: Red's link].
    I also think there are similar unforeseens regarding Wave and Tidal generation; not the least of which is the obvious consideration – that being the salt environment, and the associated maintenance issues. Throw into that the RMA and gaining Maori approval for such projects, and one wonders whether such projects will ever see the light of day in this country.

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  31. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    There are very few tidal power stations in the world and they are tidal in the sense that they are hydro dams across the mouth of an estuary with a high tidal flow. I think there are two or three of these.
    Tidal stations using undersea turbines as proposed for the Kaipara and purely experimental. This would be the first commercial station in the world. PLacing turbines underwater in a tidal stream with sand and silt is putting a huge machine with its cables and bearings etc into a terribly hostile environment. Maintenance costs will be high to say the least.
    Also there is the risk that if the field is overcrowded then the back pressure becomes a wall and the water runs around the turbines rather than through them.
    And of course there is not power generated at high and low tides. It may be predictable but when it coincides with peak draw off (winter evenings) then back up is needed.
    The new small scale Nuclear Batteries seem a much more viable prospect for areas like this, although a couple of regular pebble bed reactor would do a nice job of supplying Auckland.
    I happen to think most of the money invested in this project will end up in a Swiss Bank account. It reeks of scam.

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  32. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    I really wonder whether NZ should go down the ‘Wind Turbine’ route

    It’s not ‘New Zealand’ doing it, unless Gerry Brownlee is ordering the SOEs to do so. There aren’t any subsidies either.

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  33. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Denmark (population 5.3 million) has over 6,000 turbines that produced electricity equal to 19% of what the country used in 2002. Yet no conventional power plant has been shut down.

    There are other factors at play. E.g load-growth and trading with other connected countries. You’d need to look at what has and hasn’t happened in countries whose grids are connected to Denmark (directly and indirectly). When Clyde Dam came online NZ didn’t decommission 400+MW of thermal generation.

    It’s true that wind only provides energy and not firm capacity, but energy is good. Energy means that peaking stations need to run less often and that hydro water can be saved for later.

    Because of the intermittency and variability of the wind, conventional power plants must be kept running at full capacity to meet the actual demand for electricity. Most cannot simply be turned on and off as the wind dies and rises, and the quick ramping up and down of those that can be would actually increase their output of pollution and carbon dioxide (the primary “greenhouse” gas).

    That’s true for baseload thermal stations (e.g. a coal-fired or nuclear power station), but not true obviously for hydro and gas-turbine stations. We’ve always needed stations to handle the daily load variations and disturbances (e.g. a large base-load machine tripping).

    My point is that hydro and wind work very well together. The wind can be thought of as more water inflow. That’s what happens in NZ.

    So when the wind is blowing just right for the turbines, the power they generate is usually a surplus and sold to other countries at an extremely discounted price, or the turbines are simply shut off.

    Not in NZ and not in any country with hydro commensurate with the wind power. And most transmission systems are linked to their neighbouring countries so a country with just thermal/nuclear generation can still get good value from wind if they have neighbours with hydro.

    A writer in The Utilities Journal (David J. White, “Danish Wind: Too Good To Be True?,” July 2004) found that 84% of western Denmark’s wind-generated electricity was exported (at a revenue loss) in 2003, i.e., Denmark’s glut of wind towers provided only 3.3% of the nation’s electricity. According to The Wall Street Journal Europe, the Copenhagen newspaper Politiken reported that wind actually met only 1.7% of Denmark’s total demand in 1999. (Besides the amount exported, this low figure may also reflect the actual net contribution. The large amount of electricity used by the turbines themselves is typically not accounted for in the usually cited output figures. Click here for information about electricity use in wind turbines.) In Weekendavisen (Nov. 4, 2005), Frede Vestergaard reported that Denmark as a whole exported 70.3% of its wind production in 2004.

    Denmark is just dependent enough on wind power that when the wind is not blowing right they must import electricity. In 2000 they imported more electricity than they exported. And added to the Danish electric bill are the subsidies that support the private companies building the wind towers. Danish electricity costs for the consumer are the highest in Europe.

    I know Denmark has an HVDC link to Sweden (which has lots of hydro) and Sweden is connected to other countries by HVAC and HVDC. So there you have the typical wind/hydro pairing. No mention about the cheapness of the energy flowing back from Sweden. Energy which wouldn’t be as available if that hydro water had not been conserved when there was cheap wind power coming from Denmark. This sentence “The large amount of electricity used by the turbines themselves is typically not accounted for in the usually cited output figures.” just sounds like a journalist who doesn’t know what they’re talking about and casts a poor light on the whole paragraph. Also that Denmark has expensive power doesn’t tell us much. NZ traditionally had cheap power as we paid for the capital through taxes. Very hard to compare.

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  34. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    I encourage you to read it, Malcolm.

    I just have. There are some inaccuracies and it appears to be written by someone who doesn’t understand how the power generation and transmission system works. Understanding that is integral to understanding the value of wind-power. Not a good sign. And then the name of the web-site: Industrial Wind Energy Opposition?

    Read what they say, but I would look for more balance and other information if I was you.

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  35. Lance (2,620 comments) says:

    Look.. like it or not there is no way on God’s green earth there is going to be a nuclear reactor for power generation in NZ.
    It doesn’t matter how logical it may be, how safe they say it is.
    It’s political poison and the resistance to it would be overwhelming.

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