DS Danyl Strype Public Seen by 219

Considering that everything the Pirates stand for in terms of internet rights and freedoms depends on a reliable supply of electricity, it seems sensible that we should have policy on how we want to see that supply maintained into the future. This policy could cover issues of:

  • source - renewables? coal? nuclear? etc
  • generation - local-scale? large-scale? publicly-owned? privately-owned?
  • distribution - old grid? smart grid?
  • pricing - let the market decide? intervene to make it affordable for everyone?
  • technology - smart meters? solar panels?

Danyl Strype Thu 24 Apr 2014 1:04PM

The topic of smart meters came up during the Pirate Camp meeting with the reps from the New Economics Party. While smart meters could provide much useful information to households to help them manage their energy use, they also raise important questions about who has access to the electricity use data collected in people's homes.


Adam Bullen Thu 24 Apr 2014 11:11PM

Smart meters are a requirement of the smart grid. I see them as a super useful tool for both pricing changes based on current demand and for individual households to manage their power usage.

We have a smart meter in the house we are renting, we joined up with power shop, it allows us to pre-pay for electricity in advance and take advantage of special packages. We can also see on a 1/2 hr basis how much power we use and when.

While I see that not everybody will want this kind of information, as engineers both my partner and I love this kind of data.

I also concede that there are some privacy issues surrounding the use of the data generated, but realistically the privacy issues around how much electricity I use pale in comparison to the much more real threat from data my emails, purchasing history on the net, spying by default by various governments etc....

As for sources, nuclear and renewables....we should actively discourage the use of coal and other dirty forms of generation.

As for the fact, that nuclear will never fly in NZ even though it is one of the best choices....well that leaves us with renewables.


Andrew Reitemeyer Sat 26 Apr 2014 8:46PM

Unless there is a transparent way to ensure the information obtained is anonymous,the use of smart meters should be voluntary. If the spooks can glean information from them then they will.


Andrew McPherson Sun 27 Apr 2014 1:44PM

Renewables & (Nuclear ~ Thorium)

I would say that we should support the inherently safe, weapons free, medical supplies friendly & vast resources of Thorium as a replacement for fossil fuels.
As there is enough Thorium to power the current rate of energy needs for at least 10,000 years, it is highly desirable compared to solely being at the mercy of renewables with variable supply.
Even though there is substantial deposits in Aus, there is also some quantity in NZ near Westport.

I would suggest that we should encourage @tommyfergusson our mining and engineering expert to discuss how a Thorium based energy system would work.

Generation : ideally we would want a degree of decentralised generation from home and business solar to reduce central demand during peak daytime hours.
I would suggest that if overcast Germany can get enough solar to reduce their central power plants, then NZ can do so with more UV working in our favour.

Pricing : will totally change in consumer's favour when the aluminium smelter is shut down in 2017, we do not have to worry about anything other than which major party will be blaming the other for their failure while in government. We do not have to intervene, just stop propping up the smelter and prices will drop.

Technology: Solar. By the time a future coalition government is prepared to rollout KiwiSolar, we can probably expect to have large enough surpluses for this policy. A solar hot water system and 5KW solar array should be sufficient for most people and would win lots of votes with the elderly.


Adam Bullen Mon 28 Apr 2014 3:18AM

While I like LTFR and similar reactor designs, people hear "Nuclear" and instantly say "no". It doesn't matter what evidence / data you show.

As a side note "MRI" changed the original name after speaking to a marketing team....no one would what to be imaged by a "nuclear magnetic resonance imaging" machine. So the "nuclear" part was dropped and we have MRI machines.....


Danyl Strype Wed 30 Apr 2014 5:15AM

Thorium may be a good choice for inland sites, in geologically stable countries which have already gone down the nuclear fission road. Mainly because some of the radioactive waste from existing uranium reactors can be fed back into them mixed with thorium, reducing the half-life of that waste from thousands of years to around 200 years (as well as generating electricity):

The molten salt reactors proposed by thorium proponents certainly seem safer by design than existing, meltdown-prone solid fuel reactors. Countries looking to replace their existing reactors as they wear out would be wise to build molten salt reactors instead of solid fuel ones.

However, nuclear fission reactors of any kind are unsuitable for tectonic plate surfing island chains like Aotearoa, vulnerable as we are to tsunami (think Fukishima), regular earthquakes (imagine if there was a nuclear fission plant in Chch), and volcanic activity. The chances of even a molten salt reactor using thorium being deluged or cracked open, or the stored radioactive waste from it being released before the 2-500 years it takes to stop being radioactive, makes nuclear fission unconscionably dangerous here. There are smarter, safer ways to boil water for powering steam turbines (which is what fission reactors do), for example, incinerating medical waste.

BTW References to medical technologies like X-Ray and MRI as "nuclear" is just spin. These technologies bear no resemblance whatsoever to nuclear fission reactors, which is what people are objecting to when we say we are "against nuclear".


Adam Bullen Wed 30 Apr 2014 5:56AM

@strypey by solid fuel reactors I assume you mean light water reactors (LWR's), the dominant reactor design.

LWR's are inherently unsafe, and no matter what is done to them to make them "fail safe" the design is not good, and can never be considered truly safe.

However reactor designs such as liquid fluorine thorium reactors (LTFR's) and travelling wave reactors (TWR's) have been designed around safe principals.

For example, the worst thing that can happen to a LWR is a meltdown, this is not possible with a LTFR as the fuel is a liquid by design. I don't really think NZ needs nuclear, I was thinking on more of a global scale for those countries who generate a significant portion of their electricity from coal etc.

NZ is lucky as we have a massive portion of our energy needs being met by renewable sources already (around 75%). The bulk of this is obviously from hydro generation, wind and solar are expanding, and no new hydro is being installed so the percentage from hydro will decrease over time.


Danyl Strype Tue 4 Aug 2015 4:48PM

There was a film screening in Ōtepoti recently about smart meters, and the concerns around them. We need to be careful to design a nuanced policy, but I think this is definitely a tech issue we could make a useful contribution to, and attract some public interest in the party.


Danyl Strype Tue 4 Aug 2015 4:50PM

I was just browsing the IP's Loomio and came across a discussion about hydrothermal energy, which I'd never heard of. I'd need to research the feasibility and ecological risks before I'd endorse it, but on the face of it, this does seem to be another renewable energy source.


Hubat McJuhes Wed 5 Aug 2015 4:19AM

Smart Metering is an effective way to buffer fluctuation in the availability of renewable power sources as the grid can respond quickly to sudden changes in availability or demand by controlling at what point in time particular devices receive requested energy.
Hence it saves on the accumulated power level that need to be provided at any given time.

This is very good and - in the light of climate change - should be endorsed in general.

For private households the benefits are not that great, though, and there is some disadvantages also:
* smarten up a house is expensive,
* there are not that many devices in a household that actually can shift their consumption to other times beside the hot water supply,
* hot water supply is often provided through a dump dedicated off-peak channel, which is good enough,
* Most importantly: smart meters accumulate lots of data that raises strong privacy concerns.

This is why I strictly oppose Smart Metering of private households!

For businesses the calculation looks completely different. Most of the disadvantages don't apply, particularly the privacy concerns, and the cost/savings ratio is much better for many businesses.

This is why I strongly support Smart Metering of businesses!

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