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false choices in energy « Previous | |Next »
November 24, 2006

The political message from the Howard Government Climate is that only nuclear power can save us from global warming. It looks as nuclear power will be over-subsidised and under-scrutinised while other more promising and more rapid responses to climate change will be neglected whilst the greenhouse gases that they could have averted continue to pollute the skies.

Ric Brazzale makes some good points in an op-ed in The Age. He makes the obvious point that, as the focus of the Government's nuclear taskforce was narrowly on nuclear power, so it excluded consideration of clean energy sources, such as renewable energy, gas-fired generation and energy efficiency. So we had a a false choice — between nuclear energy and coal — as if no other large-capacity power options were available. As we know this is a false choice as we have solar power, wind power, bioenergy, geothermal "hot rocks", energy efficiency, solar water heating and natural gas. That undercuts nuclear power being a magic bullet answer to climate change.

The Stern Report and the Government's nuclear taskforce a carbon price signal is essential for greenhouse gas reduction and for investment in the development and deployment of zero and low-emission technologies.Brazzale says that the flaw of the taskforce is:

We don't need to wait 15 to 20 years to build nuclear power stations.More importantly, we don't have 15 to 20 years to wait to build them.As Stern observed in his recent report: "There is a high price to delay. Weak action in the next 10 to 20 years would put stabilisation even at 550 ppm (parts per million) carbon dioxide beyond reach — and this level is already associated with significant risks."

And he adds that it is possible to address this lag because:
Australia already has an abundance of zero-emission renewable and low-emission energy technologies. They could be deployed en masse tomorrow and begin to cut our greenhouse gas emissions. This would be instead of our waiting 15 or 20 years for a nuclear power station to be built.

It can be done because South Australia will have 15 per cent of its power needs met from wind when only a few years ago it was zero.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:26 AM | | Comments (1)


I am a great believer in simple solutions for complicated problems. The solutions that are featured, while not by themselves capable of fixing the issue are a good first step. They are relatively quick and cheap to implement on small and larger scale. They are also less politically sensitive than the gallumphing collusus that will be nuclear power (if it is ever implemented).