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.
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.