Nuclear Power: the ‘Grown Ups’ Option for Australia’s Unfolding Power Crisis

maturity, noun: the quality of behaving mentally and emotionally like an adult; a very advanced or developed form or state.

If there is one attribute sorely missed in Australia’s energy debate it has to be ‘maturity’.

Now that Australia’s suicidal renewable energy policies are starting to bite, destroying the viability of our cheapest and most reliable base-load power plants and, with them, our once reliable and affordable power supplies, a state of panic has set in.

Fear and anxiety are not conducive to finding measured and lasting solutions to existential threats like the one that has already played out in South Australia; and which now threatens the rest of the Country.

Instead of fronting up to the causes and consequences of our power pricing and supply calamity, the morally bankrupt idiots that pretend to govern us have dashed straight for the periphery: calling in aid from Californian carpetbagger, Elon Musk to provide South Australians with a $150 million battery (paid for by taxpayers) that would supply SA’s power needs for all of four minutes, for example.

Meanwhile, Australia sits on the largest known reserves of uranium in the world and heads the list of global exporters.

Happy to send Australian uranium to China and India so that these burgeoning economies can have reliable and affordable power, the intellectual infants that parade as our political betters are too gutless to even mention the ‘N’ word in this Country.

A few weeks back we reported on a call by an Australian Aboriginal leader, Warren Mundine for Australians to grow up and go Nuclear. Now, he’s been joined by The Australian’s Adam Creighton.

Why are we cold on the idea of nuclear fission?
The Australian
Adam Creighton
20 March 2017

Any financial adviser worth their commission will tell clients not to eschew entire asset classes. Diversify, they’ll insist. You can never predict the future, and even confident forecasts often prove wrong.

The same principles should apply to energy security. But when it comes to Australia’s power supply debate and our nuclear options in that mix — silence.

As of last year, 30 countries operated 450 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 60 nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. That includes 20 in China and the giant Hinkley nuclear station that’s been commissioned by the UK government.

Yet Australia, with up to 40 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves, lacks one, beyond the small medical facility at Lucas Heights.

South Australia’s blackouts have rightly shifted attention on to Australia’s dysfunctional National Electricity Market, and the absurd prospect of the second-largest LNG exporter in the world facing a domestic gas shortage from next year.

But the interminable slanging over coal and gas on the one hand, and solar and wind on the other, takes place with no mention of our vast uranium reserves.

Even a recent report from South Australia’s 2016 royal commission into nuclear power hasn’t excited much debate. “The Commission did not find that nuclear power is ‘too expensive’ to be viable or that it is ‘yesterday’s technology’. Rather, it found that a nuclear power plant of currently available size at current costs of construction would not be viable in the South Australian market under current market rules,” it reported. South Australia has had either the highest or second-highest average wholesale electricity prices — and the most volatile — for the past nine years, which has hurt the state’s stricken economy.

Cost aside, nuclear power offers a vastly superior path to a low-carbon emission future than solar and wind power because it’s 100 per cent reliable. It’s black coal without any emissions, and with more location flexibility to boot.

“Coal and gas stations are where they are because that’s where the coal or the (gas) is. Transporting the uranium is easy so there’s much more flexibility about where they are put; and radioactive waste produced is tiny,” adds Tony Wood, energy expert at the Grattan Institute.

A large nuclear reactor, which would supply about a third of South Australia’s current electricity requirements, would cost, the commission estimated, almost $9 billion, and a smaller one about $3.3bn. That’s about seven-times the cost of the gas power station the state government has recently promised to build.

But the fetish for solar panels and wind farms — locked by panoply of overlapping and inconsistent state and federal renewable energy targets — is very expensive, too. Labor’s vague plan for half of electricity to be supplied by renewable energy by 2030, up from less than a quarter today, would cost about $100bn in new wind, geothermal and solar capacity, according to analysis by consultants ACIL Allen, in 2015. The additional 11,000 wind turbines alone — 10-times the present number — would cost $65bn.

Labor can bang on about the 50 per cent target by 2030 all it wants: on a cloudy, still autumn day in 2031 the amount supplied by renewables will be zero per cent. Baseload power will still be necessary.

Pinning hopes on great strides in battery development, so the renewable energy can be stored, is foolish. Battery technology could peter out, just as the so-called Moore’s law, a guide to the pace of transistor development, has recently broken.

Oddly, the accidents at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima from decades past have cast the darkest shadow in Australia. While it is illegal to operate a nuclear reactor here, Russia, the US and Japan — the homes of those incidents — are all building new ones. And it’s not like they don’t have coal, gas and renewable options too.

To the extent Australia’s nuclear ban is moralising, it’s hypocritical. Australia’s uranium exports to India, which hasn’t signed the comprehensive test ban treaty, are ramping up to 1500 tonnes over the next five years.

Australia is probably a better location for nuclear reactors in any case. It has a stable, tsunami-free climate where earthquakes are unlikely. It has a sophisticated workforce, and regulatory institutions of high integrity, and unpopulated regions suited to disposal of waste. Current energy trends will leave Australia with costly and highly intermittent energy from wind and solar providers and with baseload power provided by gas power stations. Gas is both carbon intensive and expensive. Other countries aren’t immune to this silliness either.

“In Germany they have more or less replaced nuclear with wind and haven’t reduced their emissions that much,” says Wood.

Far-sighted politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, from John Howard to Martin Ferguson, have advocated nuclear power. A report for the Howard government in 2006 by former Telstra and NBN chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski, also a scientist, envisaged 25 large nuclear reactors that would cut electricity generation emissions in half.

The Turnbull government’s so-called Snowy 2.0 isn’t a serious solution. It has an element of Hollowmen to it, the television satire: “Quick we need the PM in a hard hat, near a structure Australians vaguely respect talking about ‘nation-building’ — ASAP”.

Nuclear power would give Australia the opportunity to develop an expertise it doesn’t have. It’s odd for the country with so much uranium to contract out expertise to manage, use and understand it to other countries. The knowledge acquired could have beneficial spill-overs for Australia’s defence manufacturing industries as well.

The politics should not be insurmountable either. In France, local politicians have long competed to have the next nuclear reactor built in their region because of the jobs and commerce they inevitably foster. The UAE’s reactor under construction employs about 17,000 workers — five times more than the construction of Australia’s next submarines.

Nuclear power is not a short-term solution to Australia’s self-imposed energy crisis. But longer term it could be the stone that hits many birds at once — cutting long-term carbon emissions, bolstering high-income STEM jobs, boosting South Australia’s economy, enhancing Australia’s national security and diversifying our energy supply. It could even give the Prime Minister a meaningful “nation-building” goal.
The Australian

Adam Creighton: the ‘N’ word is for ‘Adults Only’.

***

Nice work, Adam! Maybe after Hazelwood closes and Victorians start to suffer the kind of load shedding and blackouts experienced in South Australia, then we’ll start to see a sense of maturity emerge.

As we’ve said before, if CO2 gas really is a planet destroying villain, then nuclear power is the only system presently available that is capable of vanquishing it.

That nuclear power has not been embraced in this country suggests that the threat from CO2 is more imagined than real; and that there must be something else behind the push to demonise what is really just plant food.

As to CO2 emissions, Tony Wood reckons that “In Germany they have more or less replaced nuclear with wind and haven’t reduced their emissions that much.”

Tony is right about the fact that Germans have not reduced their emissions. Indeed, German CO2 emissions continue to rise, despite the hundreds of billions of euros that have been thrown in subsidies at wind and solar (see our post here).

However, Germany has not “more or less replaced nuclear with wind”. Nuclear has been replaced by new and previously mothballed coal-fired plant – hence the rising CO2 emissions. In the winter just gone, wind and solar power output plummeted and it was only coal-fired power plants that kept the lights on and Germans from freezing in the dark (see our post here).

Subsidised wind power isn’t a substitute for anything: it’s the fastest track to economic suicide there is, just ask a South Australian working for a manufacturer or mineral processor and waiting for the pink slip.

Sometimes it takes a total calamity for people to grow up and be serious. With Australia’s power grid on the brink of collapse, let’s hope for an outbreak of maturity, sufficient to get our infantile political and media class screaming the ‘N’ word from the rooftops.

Don’t mention the ‘N’ word in front of children.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Peter Pronczak says:

    Nuclear waste is a thing of the past under a ‘once through’ procedure.

    Germany was the world leader in high temperature reactors, one that safely operated for years and the newer one that was online for only weeks were shut down under the green agenda.
    It’s also hypocritical that Germany supplements it’s power by buying from nuclear countries such as France (shades of SA power from Victorian coal).
    BP Solar, was the largest manufacturer of panels in Europe, but after the fire that had to be allowed to burn out because of the roof-top panels, carcinogens were spread over Buerstadt, Germany, they did a runner like James Hardie Industries over asbestos compensation.

    Nuclear plants can be produced in sizes ranging from large permanent, to the back of a truck or barge, & fusion energy cuts out having to have steam turbines, & hey, space propulsion to Mars in a week.
    Take a look at this 4 minute video of Trump’s return to Kennedy’s space program that mainstream media ignored & one of the reasons why Britain hates Trump http://cecaust.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=0e711a75e092d068debcd1a03&id=c5900f54ab&e=e11d943cf5

    The Green’s mantra of overpopulation & the adoption of energy systems incapable of realistically supporting life, has resulted in the supposed ‘appropriate technologies’ for underdeveloped countries, seen for what it is; depopulation, and first world countries keeping ‘their limited resources’ for themselves.

    As long as we remain tied to non-progression of technology, the milking of old style resources will remain limited and reducing.
    Were we to continue progressing to higher energy flux densities, there will never be a limit to resources: The world is not overpopulated, it is underdeveloped. Each step of technological progression has revealed more and new resources, e.g., carbon fiber replacing metal. Fusion energy will also provide a method of creating new elements for uses that as yet remain dreams. Fusion technology is being developed with the intention of twice the Sun’s temperature. It’s that simple, particularly with a National credit bank as the CBA, based on Hamilton’s credit system, used to be.

  2. Phil Clarke says:

    Great article – Congratulations

    About time these pages stopped pushing fossil fuels – recognised they are indeed damaging the environment through CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions and that nuclear power is the only way to solve the problems

    This Grown Ups page was a breath of fresh air. Nuclear Power is the solution – in a couple of decades we could be asking “can anyone remember the problem!”

    • We hope that we both live long enough to see nuclear power in this country, but realistically can’t see it happening.

      We do not ‘push’ coal or gas fired power, we simply appreciate its reliability and affordability over all available sources in this country. Your comment was produced aided by power from coal and gas; the internet and your computer are powered by it; your home is powered by it; your workplace is powered by it.

      If you wish to reject power from coal and gas in this country, then good luck to you.

      In the meantime, STT will enjoy hot showers and cold beer, and continue to publish our posts on the self-inflicted energy crisis in this country, all thanks to coal and gas. STT is very pleased to have been alive at a time when power was both reliable and cheap, but not so pleased to see ideology destroy that combination. Nuclear fits the bill, but until then only coal, gas and hydro can do so.

      The cost of power has escalated, depriving the poorest in society of decent civil life (try living without power in the depth of winter or height of summer), wrecking businesses and destroying jobs.

      We will back people over renewable policies every time. If that means supporting the power generation sources that actually support people, then we are happy to be called guilty of doing so. We support nuclear power for that reason, but it is a long way off in this country. PS: as the sun has set and the wind isn’t blowing, this message was powered by coal and gas.

      • michaelspencer2 says:

        But surely you’re using battery power?
        What? You’re not ….. But the ‘greenies’ say that’s the way to go. /sarc

  3. Ross King says:

    FLONUPS (Floating Nuclear Power Stations is my recom. such is the irrationality of the naysayers that hey will insist THERE *IS* such a risk of tsunamis on the foreshore sites (optimal for access to cooling water) and of e’quakes, they they WILL NOT BE SHAKEN OUT OF THEIR b..OZ..o mentality.
    Build ’em in docks where you build yr offshore. platforms, tow ’em over the horizon in territorial waters (out-of-sight-out-of-mind), anchor them in FLONIUP flotillas, all wired-up to shore, and fire ’em up sequentially as fast as they they can be launched off the slipways.

  4. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    EXCELLENT (sane) read.

    We need to start talking (CO2-free) nuclear. If CO2 is yur jam.

    IMHO nuclear fusion will be the future. Bonding/fusing hydrogen atoms just like our sun does! And the processes primary fuel source – sea water!

    A long way off as we are yet to control the enormous heat reaction and harness its limitless baseload energy.

    Warmist environmental editor Andy Revkin of the (warmist) NYTimes is a strong advocate. Well worth searching his name + hydrogen fusion.

  5. michaelspencer2 says:

    Never mind about uranium-fueled light water reactors; the way forward is surely LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors). Check out a little bit about this technology on pages 3 to 6 of this interactive little thing about the weather: http://galileomovement.com.au/media/ShouldYouReallyBeAlarmed.pdf

    And, we see a continuation of the panic about the weather, (otherwise known as ‘global warming’ – oops! – since the Earth hasn’t warmed overmuch in last twenty years, it’s now ‘climate change’ because that covers everything!). The alarmists are citing a cyclone as ‘evidence’ now. (“Cyclones have NEVER occurred in the past, so it must be us evil humans who caused it!”) As readers of this blog well know, it is this sort of blind ‘belief’ of many who follow this pseudo-religion that has caused the stupidity (and the profiteering by charlatans) of promoting ‘renewables’.

    Do check the first two ‘TED’ talks on the nuclear subject. Hopefully, you will find them enlightening.

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