Nuclear power must be included in Australias energy mix – Dr Ziggy

first_imgAustralia has no choice but to consider nuclear power as part of its future energy mix, leading nuclear industry advocate, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, said in Adelaide today. Even if there happened to be “supersonic” progress in the development of renewable energy sources, and the successful rollout of energy productivity and carbon capture technologies, nuclear power will have to be considered if Australia is to meet its carbon reduction targets, he said. Switkowski, the Chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, was in Adelaide to present the 34th annual Essington Lewis Memorial Lecture – organised by the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (Adelaide branch).The free lecture – named in honour of the one of the founding fathers of the Australian resources sector, and former Chief Executive and Chairman of BHP – is entitled “Is the climate right for nuclear power?”“I am concerned that the exclusion of nuclear power from our national conversation and energy debate represents a triumph of political pragmatism over good policy,” Switkowski said today. “When it comes to the generation of base load electricity – the 80% of electricity that must be available round the clock to power our refrigerators, washing machines, plasma TVs, traffic lights, air conditioners, etcetera – the options in front of us include the use of coal, gas, oil, hydroelectricity and nuclear energy,” he said.“If fossil fuels are excluded because they are “dirty”, and the risks to hydroelectricity from water scarcity considered, then the only presently available clean option for base load electricity is nuclear power.”Dr Switkowski said that, as well as being virtually carbon neutral, nuclear power offers several compelling arguments for deployment in Australia, including its proven 24/7 base load capacity, the country’s plentiful reserves of uranium, and generating costs that compare favourably with coal and gas fired power generation.“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,” he said. “Our lights will start to go out as investment in clean base load 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.”Dr Switkowski said 31 countries representing two-thirds of humanity currently use nuclear power to produce some of their electricity. Globally, 15% of electricity is nuclear-generated, 23% within the OECD, and 31% of the European Union.“The current nuclear community is expected to grow to 50 countries by 2020. From our region, these already include China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea and may extend to Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand,” he said.“Given the presence of nuclear powered aircraft carriers, submarines and ice breakers, Australia’s region is nuclear enabled today. An increasing number of countries around the world are turning to nuclear power to meet growing demand for energy, reduce GHG emissions and diversify their energy mix from a single platform or dominant fuel supplier.”last_img read more