Richard Dowden disputes Gwynne Dyer's view that the
retreat from the use of nuclear power (26.11.12) is
It was foolish of Japan to build or buy nuclear power
stations, because, like New Zealand, Japan is on the
Pacific's ''rim of fire'' enclosing most of the world's fault
lines. Earthquakes from such faults at the bottom of the
Pacific Ocean make a very large area of small up or down
movement. This travels as a long wave at jet-plane speeds in
all horizontal directions, slowing down as the ocean
shallows, so the water piles up into a huge wave of several
Auckland has not had such a tsunami in recent years, but it
is just as likely as Japan to have one at any time.
Fortunately, the Cook Strait power cable and the discovery of
the Maui gas field made nuclear power far less urgent and now
unnecessary since hydro-electric power, wind power, tidal
power and geothermal power more than cope.
Apart from tsunamis, there are many possible causes of
nuclear accidents. Many of the nations listed by Mr Dyer will
be in trouble because they have depended too much on nuclear
power. Italy was the first nation in the world to use
geothermal power, yet now geothermal power accounts for only
1.5% of Italy's national production. In the United States, it
accounts for only 0.3%.
Despite many opportunities, geothermal power accounts for
only 1% of Japan's power. The United States appears to have
adequate wind power, but it is not developed as it is in
Europe. Germany, the United Kingdom and France, all of which
have nuclear power, though closing it down, produce 48GW,
15GW, and 13GW, respectively.
This is only beaten by Spain, producing 58GW.
On the other hand, Denmark is the best placed. It has no
nuclear power stations, no intention of getting any, and
sells 95% of the world's wind turbines.
- Richard Dowden, whose field is physics, is a
University of Otago emeritus professor.