Time to fire up the nuclear debate

October 22, 2018

An opinion piece in today's The Australian backs Conservative Party policy in considering nuclear power as part of Australia's energy mix:

Voters concerned about climate change — and the reliability of affordable power — should be turning their minds to the nuclear option. The debate would take off, given a bipartisan show of courage by political leaders. As a first step, MPs should remove federal and state legislative bans on the building of a nuclear power plant. Australia’s share of total greenhouse emissions is small but that should not prevent us from taking an active part in the growing international discussion about nuclear energy.

In response to this month’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5C report, Chief Scientist Alan Finkel said the world should look squarely at the goal of a zero-emissions planet, then work out how to get there while maximising economic growth. This, he said, would include serious consideration of other options modelled by the IPCC, including biofuels, catchment hydro-electricity and nuclear power.

A largely emissions-free source of electricity, nuclear power does not suffer the intermittency that bedevils the current crop of renewable energy options. Nuclear is technology-rich, energy-dense and has a lower land-use footprint than alternatives such as solar and wind. It has a better safety record than the popular imagination would suggest. Australia has vast reserves of uranium, making us a global leader in supply. 

The potential is that nuclear technology for power generation will evolve rapidly over coming years, including smaller, cheaper and safer designs.

Donald Trump has made continued research and development of nuclear energy a priority to safeguard America’s technological edge. In China, an emerging nuclear energy superpower, a recent scientific paper argued massive development of its nuclear energy sector was indispensable to achieve the 1.5C target. The paper said this would require nuclear power to account for 28 per cent of China’s power mix by 2050. We cannot afford to be absent as the nuclear debate gains momentum.

To read the full article, click here.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has told 2GB's Luke Grant he has been working with M.I.T. on a soon-to-be-released report on the benefits of nuclear power reactors for Australia, which these days are totally safe.

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