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spruiking nuclear power #2 « Previous | |Next »
June 6, 2006

This is what Julia Bishop, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, said in her op.ed. in The Australian yesterday:

The cost competitiveness of new nuclear power technologies has also been demonstrated in studies conducted in Finland, the US, Japan and Britain. Recent studies conducted on behalf of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation have shown that in Australia nuclear power could be cost competitive with coal generation, even without considering the cost of carbon emissions.

I choked on that, as I understood that that nuclear power was 3 times as expensive in Australia and would not get off the ground without massive public funding. There would be no private investment unless the public picked up the tab.

I guess the 'could be' is the key word, as it could be cost competitive with massive public subsidy. Then so would solar or wind for that matter. Doesn't this kind of spruiking undercut Julie Bishop's stated objectives to have a public debate, an objective dispassionate discussion about nuclear power as an alternative source of energy?

Bill Leak

The ANSTO Report Introducing Nuclear Power in Australia: An Economic Comparision takes a financial perspective and it does mention public subsidies. Surely financing would need to highlight the huge initial costs of establishing a nuclear power industry and the Government being willing to meet the costs of cleaning up nuclear waste and to guarantee against accidents to lessen the risk.

You can be sure the private energy companies are not going to carry the financial risk.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:54 AM | | Comments (5)


Two points:

1) Since when has the Commonwealth had any say on how electricity is generated. Thats a States responsibility.

This is a distraction, nothing more. Its a debate Howard can't loose. If the inquiry finds against nuclear generation Howard can walk away saying at least we now know. If it finds for then the States will protect him from political damage by refusing to allow them.

2) If nuclear is so safe why does the industry demand a cap on damage claims. AFAIK, no other does.

re: 1) Since when has the Commonwealth had any say on how electricity is generated. That's a State's responsibility.
Nope.No longer. That was yesterday. The commonwealth intervenes, and is a part of electricity, with CoAG's establishment of the national electricity market and the establishment of a national energy regulator.

Re: 2) If nuclear is so safe why does the industry demand a cap on damage claims. AFAIK, no other does.
Me thinks that they--the nuclear industry-- are talking about the new generation of nuclear reactors that are still in the pipeline.

That is what the Nuclear scientist and publicist Leslie Kemeny is saying. I remember an article he written in The Australian where he said you could put them in Wommera---a reference to WMC + Roxby Downs?

From what I can the reactors are the way the nuclear industry attempts to overcome the harsh economic realities of nuclear power being 2-3 times more expensive.The industry has produced a series of reports on the economics of a "new generation" of nuclear power stations that only exists on paper at present.

The report to ANSTO by leading nuclear industry figure, John Gittus, claiming that a non-existent nuclear power station, AP1000, would be competitive with coal power in eastern Australia

It's dream time.

The national energy regulator is there to ensure there is a degree of fairness in the marketing of electricity, but I think you'll find the regulatatory/licensing control of generators is still a state responsibility, Gary.

I don't want to suggest an either or. Like water energy has become a together through CoAG: a "co-operative" federalism.

Of course states have a lot of leeway--they can facilitate the shift in their own territory to a greater reliance on renewable energy; but here are limits. The ethos of the national energy market, for instance, is efficiency not sustainability.

That means SA is limited to how much electricty it can generate through solar and wind.