Adam Creighton is right that Australian taxpayers and consumers have unwittingly subsidised foreign companies large sums to install solar and wind power. Adam notes that the solar farm at Moree has 100 jobs at a cost of $1.5 million each. And the vast amounts spent on ‘renewable’ energy could have built multiple small nuclear reactors providing reliable, low cost and low emission power. Nuclear is the ultimate renewable power and yet we continue to eschew its use.
For a country like Australia with its abundance of uranium and coal surely we should have an electricity network unpinned by coal and gradually adding nuclear power – replace ageing coal power stations with modern nuclear power stations. That would be visionary, it would be cost effective and it would ensure Australia has access to reliable power.
Australia has no need for wind power and limited need for solar power.
In his remarks to the Minerals Council of Australia annual dinner, the Prime Minister said
And so I’ve said for many years – nearly a decade at least consistent, on this point – I would welcome a new HELE coal plant in Australia – we are after all the world’s largest exporter of seaborne coal. Surely we have a vested interest in demonstrating high efficiency, low emissions coal technology in Australia.
Indeed he is right. Coal is fundamental to Australia and should not be pushed out until technology develops an alternative which is as low cost and as reliable.
Now we know the Prime Minister is an enthusiast for new technologies as he said at the same dinner
So as you all well know, I’m a great enthusiast for any new technologies …
And he hinted at a role for nuclear
Now that is why we gave an ‘all of the above’ energy policy – one that includes all the technologies that are available in Australia today: solar, wind, hydroelectricity, gas and of course coal.
One of the technologies that is available in Australia is nuclear energy. It is to be found at Lucas Heights. It’s about time that we built Australia’s capacity as a nuclear energy producer.
Some will wish to parse the PM’s remarks by saying that the Lucas Heights reactor is not generating electricity and hence is not an ‘all of the above energy’ source. Yet that would be wrong. For the Lucas Heights reactor (while small) does split uranium and create lighter elements converting some matter into energy according to Einstein’s formula e=mc2.
Yes, that reactor is used to create nuclear medicine – a vital part of our medical system. Yet it could be used to generate electricity using basic technology already in Australia. It is trivial to convert the heat from a critical but controlled nuclear reaction to electricity.
The point is not that Lucas Heights should be converted to a nuclear power station – it is too small for that – but that the technology of using nuclear energy to create electricity is already available in Australia. We have the raw material – uranium – we have the technology and we have the space to dispose safely any nuclear waste. The only thing missing is the political will.