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Nuclear power backed by 19%

Published: 12:37PM Monday April 07, 2008 Source: ONE News

Nearly one fifth of New Zealanders now favour nuclear power as the best energy source for the country in the next 10 years, according to a survey.

The Shape NZ survey found nuclear power is favoured by 19%, but the majority want wind and solar power.

Seventy seven percent prefer wind as the best energy source, 69% solar, 47% geothermal, 40% wave power, 35% small and large scale hydro, 19% nuclear, 10% gas and 8% coal.
A proposed ban on building new thermal coal and gas power plants in the next 10 years, as part of government policy to focus investment on renewable energy sources, has 58% support, while 26% oppose this.

New Zealand is not doing enough to encourage renewable energy projects, according to 70% of respondents.

The national survey of 3,546 respondents was conducted by ShapeNZ and has a margin of error of 1.6%.

Trading nuclear-sourced emissions credits
More people oppose than support the prospect of allowing emission credits, originally given to power companies overseas which have lowered emissions by building nuclear power plants, to be traded in New Zealand.

Currently the law forbids trading in nuclear-sourced emissions when the country's emissions trading system starts, most likely later this year.

Forty three percent say "no" to trading in nuclear sourced credits, 33% say "yes" while 24% don't know.

Look of wind farms acceptable
Only 5% say windfarms do not look acceptable, 3% really disliking their look.

Some 48% say they like the way wind farms look, 19% really liking their look, while 44% say it depends on where they are located.

Asked how concerned they would be, on a scale of one to five (one being not concerned at all and five being very concerned) if a wind farm was built in an area visible from their home, 84% give an approval rating (1 to 3) and 14% give a concern rating of four to five.

Asked about the amount of influence opponents have in whether or not new wind farms get built, 39% say opponents have too much say, 9% say not enough. Some 35% say the amount of influence is "about right", while 17% don't know.

Political management of climate change
Asked to rate the government's performance on managing climate change on a scale of one to five (one being poor, five excellent), 36% fail it with a one or two score; 38% give it a three-plus mark, including 17% a four-plus score.

Asked which of the two main political parties would be best to manage climate change, Labour and National each score 32%, while 36% don't know.

A Labour-Green coalition is best favoured to manage climate change (33%), compared with a National-Green coalition (23%), while a National-Maori coalition by 7% and a Labour-Maori coalition by only 4%. 25% don't know and 7% elect some other coalition option to best manage climate change.

Renewable energy embraced
The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, which runs the 8,900-plus member ShapeNZ research panel, says the results show people have embraced the concept of a renewable energy future.

The Business Council, whose 71 member companies' annual sales of more than $44 billion equate to about 34% of gross domestic product, has been advocating for emissions trading since 2003 to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and help divert investment to lower-emission energy sources.

However, it's chief executive, Peter Neilson, says the survey results run counter to some of his organisation's hopes on climate change management policy. It wants the price on carbon, imposed through an emissions trading scheme, to determine what power plants are built, not the proposed 10 year ban on new thermal baseload.

"We don't need both. We'll be arguing that policy makers should have confidence that the emissions trading scheme they are setting up will work: it will price carbon effectively and influence thousands of investment decisions on emissions reduction," Neilson says.

"Like the government, Kiwis want a dollar each way - through pricing and a ban. Yet the market will give us better decisions. A ban rules out the potentially major strides being made in clean coal technology - which would turn coal into one of the country's largest and longest term energy sources," he says.