Experts push for nuclear as an energy option

EXPERTS are calling for a national discussion on nuclear as an option to help address Australia’s energy security and climate change challenges.

Korea Ulchin Nuclear Power Plant. Image: Flickr.

A symposium held at ANU on April 11 reviewed the report of the South Australian Government’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and suggested the inclusion of nuclear options that support mining, power generation and waste storage.

A communique from the symposium, released today (April 21), urged governments to remove laws that prohibit nuclear fuel cycle activities, in order to constrain free and open discussions.

Symposium coordinator and director of the ANU Energy Change Institute, professor Ken Baldwin, says the Royal Commission’s report was a landmark examination of the prospects for the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia.

“At a time when the nation is developing a new national energy plan, as well as a plan to decarbonise the Australian economy, we need to have all options on the table to eventually replace fossil fuels,” he says.

“Wind is the cheapest form of new-build energy, and will soon be joined by large-scale solar.

“But as we move to more rapidly decarbonise, higher levels of renewables in the national grid will require additional generating capacity, energy storage and transmission lines.

“The question then becomes: will renewables then be the lowest-cost, zero-carbon emission source of electricity compared with nuclear power?”

The communique also noted that Australia was well placed to start up a new industry in international nuclear waste storage.

“Australia is both geologically and geopolitically stable, with good governance systems – all desirable for nuclear waste storage,” professor Baldwin says.

The symposium was hosted by The Australian National University (ANU) Energy Change Institute in collaboration with Engineers Australia, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

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