Australian Energy Minister’s Rejection of Nuclear Power Wins Prize For Dumbest Policy Move Ever

Apart from wrecking Australia’s reliable and affordable power supplies, there is no Plan A for energy. And there clearly isn’t a Plan B.

The Minister in charge of the current fiasco is Chris Bowen. A man who fails to exhibit any sign of intellect, let alone any indication of insight or wisdom. His maniacal mission to make the delivery of electricity so haphazard and costly starts with wind and solar generation target of 82%. No country in the world has ever got close; once wind and solar account for more than 30% of power delivered to a grid, grid reliability suffers and power prices skyrocket.

Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton recently rattled Bowen when he announced full-blown support for nuclear power. Bowen, exhibiting all the qualities for which he is renowned, called it “a dumb idea for Australia”, and proving, once and for all, that for as long as the Green/Labor Alliance are in charge of this Country, the chances of restoring reliable and affordable power are nil.

Michael de Percy explains how Australia’s energy future is being done-in by characters dimmer than a five-watt globe.

Where’s our energy Plan B, Chris Bowen?
Michael de Percy
Spectator Australia
15 May 2023

Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, has released a video calling Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s plan for nuclear energy ‘a dumb idea for Australia’. Mr Bowen’s statement is at odds with the people and also at odds with his Prime Minister’s promises – it’s hardly the stuff of ‘the government I lead will respect every one of you every day’ and ‘together we can end the climate wars’.

If nuclear is not on the table, and Australia is to achieve a target of 82 per cent renewables energy generation by 2030, then what ideas are not ‘dumb’?

At his speech at The Sydney Institute earlier this year, I asked Mr Bowen for his Plan B if his plan fails and the lights go out. He replied, ‘My Plan B is for that not to happen.’ His only plan is to rely on more transmission, batteries, pumped hydro, and green hydrogen. But he didn’t accept ‘the premise’ of the lights going out and stated that nuclear ‘won’t be happening here, not while we’re in office’.

When asked for an example of countries with high levels of renewables generation that did not have high electricity prices, Mr Bowen said he did not ‘accept the premise of the question’ and referred to the CSIRO’s report on the cost of nuclear.

Clearly, the premise is that Mr Bowen has no Plan B.

It is a scary prospect given the importance of electricity for every aspect of our existence. The demand for electricity is set to grow exponentially with the electrification of the transport and property sectors. And the ability of the infrastructure including the overbuilt grid necessary for solar and wind power to keep up with the demand for electricity is not something we should leave to ideologues.

Further, some have questioned the validity of the CSIRO’s data, and the most recent GenCost report uses figures from over four years ago to discount the efficacy of rapidly developing small modular reactor (SMR) technology. It seems it is fine to rely upon future technologies to reduce the cost of wind and solar, but somehow a proven technology won’t be able to reduce the cost.

According to the CSIRO’s Chief Energy Economist, nuclear energy is not viable in Australia amid a ‘lack of robust real-world data around small modular reactors (SMRs) due to low global use’.

It is also suggested that nuclear energy policy is likely to be ‘dominated by opinion and conflicting social values rather than a discussion on the underlying assumptions’ and that it cannot be deployed within the ‘timeframe required’.

If we look to other countries, many are rapidly returning to nuclear energy to achieve emissions targets and to reduce prices. Other OECD countries including Finland and Canada have longstanding nuclear energy generation, while KoreaSwedenFrance, and Japan (and soon, Italy) have reversed their policies to phase out nuclear energy given the rising cost of and intermittent generation of wind and solar energy.

Even Germany, after phasing out its nuclear power generators, has had to revert to coal and gas to fill the gap. Despite reaching some 46 per cent renewables energy generation, Germany is unlikely to reach its renewables generation target by 2030.

In the meantime, Germany’s electricity prices have been among the highest in the OECD.

Such ‘underlying assumptions’ leading to Germany’s renewables energy policy failure are not addressed in the CSIRO’s report.

One problem with underlying assumptions is the capital costs based on calculation of the effective lifespan of electricity generation assets.

Switzerland’s Beznau nuclear power plant began operating in 1969 and is still operational some 54 years later.

One Australian wind farm began operations in 2009. Late last year, the turbines sat idle for about six weeks, and in early January 2023 one of the blades caught on fire. The local Rural Fire Service could do nothing more than watch it burn and stop the fire spreading until it self-extinguished. The expected lifespan of wind farms is 20 years, but maintenance costs increase as equipment ages, especially if one of the blades catches fire in its fourteenth year of operation. [Note to Michael: the economic lifespan of wind turbines is 12-15 years, at best. In the US, thousands of turbines have been replaced after as little as 12 years in service.]

The expected lifespan of renewable energy plants versus nuclear plants was also called into question by Dr David Collins at an Australian Nuclear Association presentation last year.

Finally, a paper from the Energy Policy Institute of Australia provides an interesting critique of the CSIRO’s 2022 comparison of renewables (based on 2030 assumptions about renewables and older prices for SMRs).

The video tweeted by Mr Bowen has already attracted fact-checking context from Twitter.

And the Albanese government has been cautioned by respected scientist and former head of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Dr Adi Paterson, that our current energy policy is being locked into a ‘flawed approach’.

Debate is an important part of any policy, and the contest of ideas is a cornerstone of liberal democratic practice. And being able to discuss the evidence for and against a particular approach requires much more than clever videos communicated via Twitter.

But we must also be cautious of dressing up policy-based evidence as evidence-based policy, for that would be a really dumb idea.
Spectator Australia

6 thoughts on “Australian Energy Minister’s Rejection of Nuclear Power Wins Prize For Dumbest Policy Move Ever

  1. Thanks a lot Australia for voting Labor in. Power prices to rise by 25% from 1st July! As the saying goes, you get the government you deserve. Labor seem hell bent on bleeding every last penny out of this country. For the love of God Liberals, get your f…ing act together!

    1. A misnomer of the international two party system known as democracy, where political entities are registered as charities, faceless members choose those to be presented to voters for their loyalty to the business tax reduction system. It’s a disguised tag team match!
      Greens have their origin in fascism, teals with a wind turbine owner & developer. Most either have forgotten or don’t know Labor was agreed by Liberals to introduce PM Thatcher’s deindustrialisation & privatisation (see Lord Ralph Harris of MPS-IEA, he described Hawke-Keating as two of his brightest pupils even though they were labor men) that started with selling the Commonwealth Bank – moving Reserve Bank function to the IMF; out of government control.
      Unless a country controls its economic system it can only govern in a secondary degree. Raging inflation, housing, health, etc., is because money has been redirected to RE subsidy.
      1% wealthy, 3% financially self sufficient leaving the rest to foot the bill; including Protagorian politicians who think they’re not in the 94%.
      With childcare (compulsory education) now to be subsidised for 3yo’s how does anyone think anything will change regardless of which party is governing?
      A large educated population would not put up with such ongoing self-policing slavery.
      Like those in the bastions of education; universities, it’s all about tenure.
      How much CO2 is released to build a sports stadium? Don’t forget to count the steel hinges.
      What’s God got to do with it other than religion’s social control? Zelenskyy appeals to Pope to end Ukraine war.

  2. Reblogged this on whatyareckon and commented:
    Bowen could only make it in a Marxist society which Australia seems to becoming! Australia can purchase nuclear subs but cannot use nuclear for energy for as Bowen has said “Nuclear is too expensive.” Bowen is, well, nuts!!!!

  3. My candidate for dumbest energy policy goes to then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who shut down an existing nuclear plant at the same time the state was going Net Zero. Once the shutdown was complete the state CO2 emissions went up over 20%

  4. Hip, hip, hypocrisy!
    Some interesting links STT.

    Paul Keating was right (for a change) three AUKUS nuclear submarine leaders but only AU (without its own U) paying for them. As a non NATO junior (like Japan) AU will be told where, when & under what circumstances these subs will be used.
    Much like subsidising Europe for wind turbines & the rest of RE, ‘our’ politicians do as international private financiers tell them to do. From PM Albo down, it’s a sad indictment of the tertiary education & bureaucratic system research advice, that we sell uranium, store other country’s waste, run a nuclear based medical facility, are regularly visited by nuclear powered & possibly armed ships, yet with other idiots use unbelievably outmoded, abandoned & resurrected means of electricity generation.

    As the pointless old sign said, “All care but no responsibility taken.”

    While still able, stand to attention & salute the flag! Err, which one?

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