Submission to Parliament Inquiry into Nuclear Power

Climate Future mad the following submission.

To:- Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy

RE: Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia

We are writing to inform you that we oppose the introduction of nuclear energy into Australia. This comment has implications for many of the items under the Terms of Reference but most particularly relates to the Health and Safety and the Environmental Impacts items.

In October last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that we have 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe. Some will argue that in order to address this challenge, we must turn to nuclear energy to provide reliable dispatchable electricity for the Australian market.

It is correct to say that we have no time left and must convert to a zero carbon economy as soon as possible. This would require:

  • Immediate ban on new fossil fuel projects (including Adani and other coal projects not yet on line).
  • Replacement of all existing fossil fuel power with renewables by 2030.
  • Replacement of energy exports with renewables by 2030.
  • Price on all greenhouse gas emissions (or other regulatory controls) to encourage their elimination by 2040.

This program can be suitably implemented by installing solar and wind farms on an industrial scale together with storage facilities such as batteries or pumped hydro. Plans have been developed in the past to substantiate these claims (e.g. Beyond Zero and CSIRO reports).

Nuclear power stations still have the following problems:

  1. take a long time to plan and build ( 10 to 15 years).
  2. are extremely costly.
  3. result in waste that is hazardous for hundreds or thousands of years.
  4. dangerous materials have to be mined, transported and handled within a community.
  5. there is no safe disposal method for the waste.

Point 1: We need to convert our whole energy system to renewables by 2030. Therefore, we no longer have time to embark on the development of a network of sites, gaining community acceptance (if that were possible) and design and construction of a nuclear power energy network. We must focus on what can be done in the next 10 years. This point alone precludes any consideration of nuclear energy for Australia.

Point 2: It is now cheaper to construct a new PV solar farm than to continue running an existing coal fired power station. And this is without even considering the costs of damage to the community and Australia’s economy of continued fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Nuclear energy would be much more expensive again.

Clearly, we need to follow the cheapest form of energy which is solar and wind. Australia’s solar resources are by far the best in the world, with most of that resource easily harnessed from open spaces (unlike Brazil or China). The world’s deserts are the likely places for large solar farms, of which Australia has a surfeit.

 

 

 

Graph from article referenced to https://openei.org/datasets/dataset/solar-resources-by-class-and-country

The opportunities for Australia are huge regarding the capture of energy and sale to the rest of the world. For example, the Sun Cable project has recently been proposed for the Northern Territory:

  • $20 Billion project
  • 3-gigawatt-capacity PV solar farm (10 GW plan)
  • 15,000 Ha (150 km2)
  • Battery storage for 24-hour supply
  • Transmitted to Darwin then via undersea cable to
  • Singapore! – (provide 20% electricity demand of Singapore)
  • Construction 2023, first energy 2027
  • Thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs

Just imagine the possibilities if we supplied electricity to the 200 million people just to our north!

Points 3, 4 and 5: The waste problem is paramount to the resistance of any country or people to have nuclear power. In the majority of countries, a nuclear power network has been first developed for military purposes – the obtaining of a nuclear bomb. Energy has been seen as a means of satisfying the public that such power plants are needed. In fact they are not. Energy is now eminently available using a process that is sustainable and produces no toxic waste that can cause cancer and birth defects for hundreds of thousands of years.

Finally, it is clear from the above that nuclear power is not a suitable industry for Australia. We would venture to suggest that the people advocating for a nuclear industry in Australia are doing so without due consideration of the people who will have to deal with the waste – the next 2000 generations that will have to live here.

for Climate Future

(a grass roots committee on the NSW Central Coast tackling the climate change emergency, https://www.facebook.com/groups/ClimateFuture/ )

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