Backing for nuclear energy

Nuclear will remove the complications and risks that come with renewables

The Australian Institute for Progress has backed calls for nuclear power to become part of Australia’s energy mix.

Executive Director Graham Young said: “Nuclear power is a no-brainer. While its capital cost may be higher than renewables, as a long-lived asset it provides much cheaper electricity than any other zero emissions technology.”

Mr Young said that France generates approximately 70% of its electricity from nuclear and has announced plans to build another 6 reactors and is considering a further 8 on top of that.

“France has one of the lowest costs of electricity in the EU and is a net exporter of electricity to other nations, helping to balance out unreliable renewable-dominated grids, like that in the UK.

“The UK, which until recently was running down its nuclear capacity, has some of the most expensive power in Europe and only has a stable grid courtesy of nuclear France.”

Mr Young said that the federal government would cause immense self-harm to the country if it did not reverse its position on nuclear.

The problem with renewables is their short life, and their need for a radically expanded network, multiple redundancies, and immense storage requirements.

Nuclear is long-lived, needs none of these things, and can potentially be plugged into the network on the site of retired coal-fired power generators.

France is making its nuclear even cheaper by processing spent fuel and reusing it.

“The economic life of wind and solar is somewhere around 20 years, or less in the case of offshore wind. That means you will replace your renewable generators three or four times during the life of one nuclear reactor.

“Nuclear power plants are a bequest to future generations.”

Mr Young said that a major problem for Australia was the lack of available grid scale storage.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan (ISP) assumes that pumped hydro will be available in time to match renewables, but also warns that it might not, specifically citing Snowy 2.0.

“The ISP shows six pumped hydro schemes, none of which has been built yet, or even in most cases, commenced. In the meantime, variable renewable energy projects are being forced into the grid.

“The likely result of this is to make renewables uneconomic. Without storage they will produce a surplus at the same time resulting in negative prices for their investors, good profits for some owners of batteries, and an ever-increasing window for supply by flexible gas generators.”

Nuclear doesn’t need storage, and it doesn’t create famines and feasts in generation. Its footprint is small, and it will provide high paying jobs for people, most of whom are already in the industry.