Nuclear Power: Australia’s Happy to Sell it to the World – But Allergic to Using It

If you’re reading this in Australia, you’re doing so thanks to coal. You might be doing so thanks to nuclear power, but for the fact that the idiots that govern us banned it, years ago.

Talk about wind and solar replacing conventional generation is just that. Talk.

The dividend from Australia’s obsession with wind and solar is rocketing power prices and a grid on the brink of collapse.

Mass load shedding events are now a guaranteed part of the Australian summer in RE obsessed South Australia and Victoria. Although those responsible for Soviet-era power rationing – the new ‘normal’ in what was once an energy superpower – are trained to refer to it as “demand management”. The cause will be, as always, collapses in wind and solar output – thanks to those pesky phenomena: sunset and dead-calm weather.

With Labor and the Greens still trying to outdo each other about their visceral hatred of coal and the myriad of benefits it produces (not least being reliable and affordable electricity), carbon dioxide gas will remain the bogeyman for years to come.

The only, indeed the perfect, foil to the anti-CO2 mob is nuclear power.

While coal-fired power plant currently provide around 85% of Australia’s electricity needs (and will do so for decades to come), there’s no time like the present to start talking about nuclear power.

Americans, French, Canadians, Swedes and other folk from a long list of countries that heavily depend upon nuclear power are gobsmacked that uranium rich Australia is not only nuclear power free, but that there is legislation which prohibits it.

The Australian’s Adam Creighton makes that, and other sensible observations, on Australia’s infantile approach to first world energy solutions.

No logic in our nuclear allergy
The Australian
Adam Creighton
23 April 2019

How depressing to see Scott Morrison having to backtrack after making the obvious and sensible remark that nuclear power shouldn’t be off the agenda if it stacks up economically.
Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke bristled at the idea that the most reliable and clean form of energy the world knows should even be discussed. “Nuclear power is against the law in Australia,” he chirped, as if being the only G20 nation to have such a ban were a good idea.

It’s embarrassing to tell people in the US that nuclear energy is banned in Australia. “But don’t you export uranium?” “Umm, yes,” I say, “but flower power has more adherents than nuclear among Australia’s political class.”

In the scramble to lift the share of renewables in the energy mix, the whole point is forgotten: to curb carbon emissions, not erect wind turbines or acres of solar panels for their own sake.

Thankfully, US leaders have moved on from Woodstock. The US government provides grants and research support for US businesses to build better reactors and bolster the country’s scientific edge. Jordi Roglans Ribas, a senior nuclear scientist at Argonne ­laboratory, one of the US’s top research institutions, says developments in small — even micro — nuclear reactors look set to bring down the cost of nuclear power.

“There’s been a lot of recent technical work on making nuclear more economically attractive, including by being able to manufacture components of plants in factories and ship them to where you need a reactor,” he tells The Australian.

As part of its “carbon-free power project”, Oregon-based Nuscale is already building a set of small modular reactors for the state of Utah, which should be operational by the mid-2020s. “Our advanced SMR design eliminates two-thirds of previously required safety systems and components found in today’s large reactors,” the company says. Three of these, at about $US250 million ($350m) each, would provide more energy — and reliably — than Australia’s biggest wind farm, according to the Minerals Council.

California-based Kairos Power is working on “fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactors” that can be shut down far more safely than traditional water-cooled reactors. HolosGen, based in Virginia, expects its reactors will produce electricity at a lower “levelised cost” than wind or solar can.

With almost a third of the world’s known uranium reserves, you’d think we might try to develop a comparative advantage in nuclear energy. Instead, we’d put these scientists in jail for breaking the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which outlaws nuclear power here.

Memo to the world: Australia, with a population smaller than Texas, doesn’t approve of nuclear energy (though we’re quite happy to take the cash from those who do). How silly we look, eschewing 20 years of research. China, also at the forefront of the electric car rollout, has about 30 nuclear reactors under construction.

Replacing coal and gas with renewables entirely is an absurd idea even assuming further large falls in the cost of batteries. That would take about 10,000 giant batteries costing more than $300 billion to ensure enough storage to ensure a reliable power supply, according to recent estimates by respected economist Geoffrey Carmody.

For all the harrumphing about the “cost” of nuclear, power is cheaper in jurisdictions that have dared try it. Illinois, with just under 13 million people, has six nuclear power stations. In Chicago the average price of electricity in January was around US12c a kW/H. Energy Australia charges me 29.4c a kW/H for electricity in Sydney.

In nearby Ontario, where nuclear energy provides 60 per cent of the electricity needs of Canada’s biggest province, it was less than C13c a kW/h.

“It has two major benefits — low operating costs and virtually none of the emissions that lead to smog, acid rain or global warming,” says Ontario Power Generation. “These benefits make nuclear a very attractive option for meeting the province’s electricity needs well into the future.”

Ribas says, “Canada is very interested to evaluate small modular reactors in some remote areas.” Better not tell them what Tony Burke thinks!

Once upon a time, the Left stressed the importance of progress through advances in science and technology, mandating state funding for schools and universities. Today it’s more akin to the religious Right it once despised, vainly dismissing for ideological reasons an entire field.

The Greens want to see “a world free of nuclear power”. Yet there are about 450 nuclear reactors in operation in the world and another 60 under construction.

“There is a strong link between the mining and export of uranium and nuclear weapons proliferation,” the Greens say. Yet more than 30 countries have nuclear power stations and many more, such as Italy and Denmark, import electricity from them. About 10 countries have nuclear weapons — far from a “strong link”.

“The use of nuclear weapons, nuclear accidents or attacks on reactors pose unacceptable risk of catastrophic consequences,” they go on. In more than 70 years of nuclear power there have only been three nuclear accidents, the most recent of which, the Fukushima disaster of 2011, incurred no fatalities. Meanwhile, wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of birds every year.

Fukushima was built in the 1960s and hit by a tsunami. Australia offers a safer geography for nuclear power. As the closure of the giant Liddell coal power station nears in 2022, small modular imported nuclear reactors might be one option worth investigating, providing reliable, carbon-free power cheaply — and without killing animals.
The Australian

Australia: happy to sell it to the World, allergic to using it.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  2. Australia has the space for nuclear power. There is no reason why it should be in anyone’s immediate backyard. There may also be a use for desalination plants within the industry.

    An additional bonus would see the collapse of the wind industry. Vast tracks of the Great Dividing Range would be saved from anymore wind energy development. Wind would become surplus to requirements. These ex employees could be reskilled to work in the nuclear industry, an industry with far greater long term job prospects.

    We could also return to a time where you could simply turn on a light switch without giving it a second thought.

    Ah, the good old days!

  3. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    THE dismissal by climate activists of ‘CO2’ free nuclear energy confirms that supposed, CO2-induced ‘Climate Change’ has zero to do with the environment or “Saving The Planet”.

    IF it did, every climate alarmist would be gluing themselves to the pavement in demand of CO2-free baseload nuclear power.

    BECAUSE they are not demanding ‘clean’ nuclear power, confirms that AGW has EVERYTHING to do with power, control and the swift advancement of global socialism – the first cousin of communism.

  4. Slightly off thread:
    A simple calculation to get the rough capital cost of RELIABLE wind power:

    Multiply the capital cost of the wind farm by the number of hours the battery backup is required to supply the equivalent energy.

    The result is mind boggling!
    The calculations for this may be found on PA Pundits- International. Post: “Batteries cannot make renewables reliable” by David Wojick.

    Back on thread:
    A good appraisal on modern nuclear potential may be found in “THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal” by Robert Hargreaves

  5. Alan Short says:

    I agree with your assessment of the pain of wrong decision making in Australia. Also, nuclear energy would be far better than coal. I would like to offer an off-setting ray of hope.
    For over 20 years, plasma physicists in the USA have been working on the issues of instability with nuclear fusion. A few are saying they have or they are on the way to solving the instability and are close to commercialization based on finding adequate funding.
    A privately held company to watch that I know about is Miftec Laboratories in Tustin, California. It owns both MIFTEC.com that plans to manufacture a nuclear fusion reactor to produce medical isotopes for imaging. This would be a small modular reactor that will take 2-3 years to build and certify. Cost: approximately $ 5 million US.
    Miftec Laboratories also owns MIFTI. MiFTI will take 7+ years to build its prototype and be certified. it will be larger, produce energy and scalable up to 100 MW. And several units can be daisy-chained together. Cost is approximately $10 million US.

  6. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  7. charles wardrop says:

    Why not depend on gas fired electricty generation while even and safer better nuclear can be developed?
    After all, the CO2/climate change causal connection is far from proven, even a scam ?

    • The trouble is getting gas from local supplies at a competitive and reasonable price over the long term. As to which, note the bans on fracking in most states, hostility to coal seam gas extraction in QLD and NSW, and Victoria’s ban that extends to conventional gas extraction, onshore. Unlock our gas reserves and employing it for power generation makes sense. But, for now, coal is it.

      • Charles Wardrop says:

        Thanks, but can’t your new energy minister see the sense of gas for energy, though, admittedly, our UK politicos are completlely sold on AGW and the Scottish ones here are even nuttier, seeking a declaration of national emergency for AGW! There is, of course, a potential national emerency, but in energy supply.

      • The Federal system means the Federal Minister has no power over gas exploration/exploitation, that’s a matter for state governments.

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