Skip to main content

Hitting Pay Dirt in Australia

We published a sour editorial the other day from Australia to show we had to go down under for a negative view of our loan guarantee. But let’s not sell Australia short – we’ve run enough material over the last couple of years to show the country is grappling seriously with ending its long standing ban against nuclear energy. Our experience is that once the conversation gets going, it’s hard to imagine it not getting to its conclusion – which is usually to the good of the atom.

Tony Owen told the Paydirt 2010 conference the "enabling investment" would allow Australia to have a serious debate on a nuclear industry. He said nuclear power was likely to be the nation's best option after 2030.

Professor Owen, who heads the Australian energy campus at University College, London, said new power generation plants over the next 20 years would be fired by gas or renewables, the latter driven by government support and eventually a price on carbon.

Well. on the one hand, he would say that and still on the same hand, the Paydirt conference is all about uranium, so this kind of talk is catnip, or perhaps paydirt, to the audience. Here’s another take:

Yet connecting the dots between now and 2050 for electricity should be clear. The widespread use of coal makes way for gas as the primary fuel in Australia, after which nuclear power becomes the load-bearing girder for baseload electricity generation (including that required to power an electric vehicle and hydrogen economy) by mid-century.

And another:

If Australia really wants base-load energy security and an industrial future, together with cost effective carbon reduction, it should follow South Korea's example. South Korea has recently won an international tender to build four nuclear power stations for the United Arab Emirates. Within a few decades it anticipates a nuclear power order book in excess of $300 billion.

Although there is still a lot of anti-nuclear energy activity in Australia – it and neighbor New Zealand were once the least nuclear friendly countries around – that’s rapidly fading, or perhaps, more accurately, being engaged by a strong pro-nuclear contingent with good arguments to offer.

Still a ways to go here, but worth keeping an eye on.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Australia is taking small and consistent steps towards nuclear.
They are considering nuclear power for their new submarine designs. This is exactly the same path by which the US adopted nuclear power in the 1950s and 60s. They will grow an industrial infrastructure, and a technical pipeline of talent by following this path.
They are doing all of the necessary steps to make a competent entry into nuclear power.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …