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BHP Billiton: lets go nuclear « Previous | |Next »
May 12, 2011

Electricity prices continue to rise to pay for the investment needed to replace the old and neglected infrastructure. The Gillard Government continues to cut deep into its funding of renewable energy whilst talking about a carbon tax and saying that it will be the greenest government ever.

The Coalition says that subsidising "green" energy is just foolish as we plunge deeper into debt which our grandchildren will be repaying forever. Their concept of sustainable development is hot air.

Greenometer.jpg

There was a golden chance to use the damaged caused by the global financial crisis to begin to build a greener, cleaner and more sustainable economy, creating jobs and tackling climate change. We had the Gillard Labor, a new type of minority government, promising a new politics of a low carbon economy.

But the old politics and the old economics still have a stranglehold on energy policy. This goes beyond duplicity, resisting reforms to bring about a low carbon economy, or defending the commercial interests of the polluters.

BHP Billiton has thrown its weight behind nuclear power in Australia and said that Australia needs to go slow on a carbon tax. Australia should not penalise its trade-exposed industries--ie., the big miners.

Apparently, BHP Billiton reckons that it would be smart for Australia to add nuclear power to its energy mix in spite of the Chernobyl poisoned landscape at Chernobyl and the disaster at Fukushima.

The lights will go out without nuclear. There was no mention of the nuclear waste issue or the need for a big public subsidy to get the nuclear industry up and running. No mention of increased use of natural gas. Nothing about more research needed into sea tide or wave electricity generation. No mention of geothermal either. It's go nuclear.

I guess that is predictable, given that BHP plans to quadruple production of uranium at its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, at a cost of $30 billion.This is a company whose corporate power is so great that that is exempt from some of our most important environmental and indigenous rights legislation. BHP Billiton must find a home for the additional uranium it will produce with its planned n expansion of the Olympic Dam copper/uranium/gold mine.

Apparently, it is not possible for Australia to cut its carbon emissions and keep the lights on without building nuclear power stations. Yet Japan has backed away from expanding its nuclear power industry in light of the Fukushima crisis in favour of renewables. Likewise Germany, which has also closed a number of older nuclear facilities”. For the nuclear power industry, this is a sign of weak leadership.

In Australia it seems public subsidy is for really for nuclear power and coal-fired power stations.

Update
Germany's energy turn shows what can be done. The share of renewable electricity in Germany has jumped from 5 percent in the 1990s to 17 percent today, and its big bet is environmental technology will be one of Germany's most important sources of income. Already, the country's share in the green-tech world market is 16 percent, which means billions of Euros in business. Renewable energy has generated 300,000 'green collar' new jobs in the past decade.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:44 AM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

BHP Billiton is weighing up a $30 billion expansion of its Olympic Dam copper, uranium and gold mine.

Copper is the most important metal in the South Australian outback in terms of revenue and profits, but Olympic Dam’s status as the world’s biggest uranium deposit (it is the world’s fourth biggest copper deposit) means that the outlook for uranium is also a vital consideration in BHP’s expansion plans.

he earthquake in Japan has altered the landscape for uranium. High-growth scenarios for nuclear power are now too bullish and BHP will have to factor in the potential for a stable- to low-growth uranium outlook.

Remember the scare campaign by the mining giants against the proposed tResource Super Profits Tax (RSPT)?

The RSPT was going to cripple the mining industry, and force these poor companies to take their capital and invest it elsewhere, at the expense of Australian jobs.

After the ALP machine ditched Rudd and installed Julia Gillard as PM, Gillard dropped the RSPT and gave the big mining companies a better deal.

The original tax was supposed to raise about $99 billion starting from the 2012-13 financial year until 2020-21. But it now looks like this figure will be only $38.5 billion.

That’s $60.5 billion that could have been spent on health care, education or the shift to renewable energy.

BHP Billiton has made a whopping $10.5 billion profit for the second half of 2010 .

The words "completely shameless" spring to mind. "Total hypocrites" not far behind. These people say and behave as if climate change is no problem, certainly shouldn't get in the way of digging up coal and shipping it off for the next 400 years, don't you worry about that. But, just in case the deniers they fund and support don't manage to infinitely prevent politicians thinking there should be some action, well then, nuclear power is the answer. The answer to making sure that there continue to be huge sums of money made by energy companies, and the model of huge centralised power sources under their control is retained. Sustainable energy is of no more interest to them than a rational drug harm minimisation program is to drug dealers.