Watching Australia come to grips with nuclear energy is like watching Mr. Hyde fighting not to become Dr. Jekyll - the struggle is intense but perhaps not wise. Let Ziggy Switkowski (and doesn't that seem like a name right out of Laverne and Shirley!), chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, explain it to you:
MALCOLM Turnbull [leader of the Liberals, currently the political opposition] is correct in emphasising the need for bipartisan support if the nuclear journey is to proceed. The question is, why has it been so hard to build bipartisan support? There may be three reasons not to support nuclear power for Australia:
* You don't believe in climate change or the need for a sustainable economy, so business as usual is fine.
* You don't believe a small economy such as Australia's, with its 1.4 per cent contribution to global emissions, can make a difference, so why bother with clean energy?
* Your planning horizon stops at 2020; the first nuclear reactors would appear later than that in Australia.
That second point is sort of amusing. In Neville Shute's novel On the Beach, Australians didn't cause the war that destroyed the Earth, but the deadly fallout was heading their way anyhow. The terms are somewhat reversed now, with nuclear energy a kind of savior for a problem Australians haven't caused. Switkowski lays out many of the pro-nuclear energy arguments we've seen many times on this site and makes some recommendations:
Our policy architects suggest there is no future scenario that will require nuclear power in Australia but:
* Deep greenhouse gas emission reductions will almost certainly prove beyond the capability of existing technologies and renewable energy platforms to deliver in the time allowed. The inclusion of nuclear power will be critical to our success.
* Our lights will start to go out as investment in clean baseload energy generation stalls in an uncertain regulatory environment and the nuclear alternative is not validated.
* In a carbon-constrained future, nuclear-powered economies will exploit their cost advantages for clean energy in competing with Australian products newly burdened by embedded carbon costs.
We're not sure cap-and-trade will put Australia in quite so dismal a position, but we take the point. The whole article does not have a lot that pro-nuclear energy folks haven't fully internalized, but take a read to see all this laid out for the increasingly ambivalent Australians.
If you want to keep up, here's the blog for you: Nuclear Australia. Also done at Blogger, it looks almost exactly like Nuclear Notes.
Mr. Switkowski himself.