From Little Things Big Things Grow: Australia’s Nuclear Powered Future Starts With SMRs

STT promotes nuclear power because it works: safe, affordable and reliable it’s the perfect foil for those obsessed about carbon dioxide gas – because it doesn’t generate any, while generating power on demand.

One of the feeble ‘arguments’ against it, is that nuclear power plants are of such vast scale that they take longer to build than the pyramids of Giza, and cost twice as much.

That argument has been given short shrift in the US, where NuScale has just won approval for one its small modular reactor’s designs, with big implications for power generation in the future.

Australia is, astonishingly, the only country in the OECD that does not have (and has never had) the benefit of nuclear power generation (it banned it 20 years ago) -notwithstanding that it is the world’s third largest uranium exporter and holds reserves that will outlast religion.

Tony Grey was the founder and chief executive of Pancontinental Mining Ltd, which discovered the Jabiluka uranium orebody. He also was chairman of the Uranium Institute (formerly the World Nuclear Association).

Tony makes the obvious case for nuclear power in Australia, by thinking small.

Takeaway nuclear reactors could help power our nation
The Australian
Tony Grey
30 September 2020

An artist’s impression of a small modular reactor (SMR)

 

Scott Morrison in his recent national energy address — given symbolically at the Tomago aluminium smelter in NSW that is beset by soaring energy costs — enunciated three guiding objectives for energy policy, including ensuring “a resilient energy system through a balanced mix of technologies”.

The growing consensus is that Australia eventually will ditch its largest and most reliable source of energy, coal, on which it has depended for 100 years or more. We’ll need baseload energy sources if we’re to maintain living standards. Yet the only logical replacement for coal is nuclear, which offers emissions-free and reliable baseload capacity. It is used in 31 countries and supplies 11 per cent of the world’s electricity (15 per cent in Canada, 20 per cent in the US, 70 per cent in France) with 13 countries building capacity.

Nuclear technology has changed dramatically during the past decade, a point acknowledged by the Member for Fairfax, Ted O’Brien, who chaired last year’s parliamentary committee inquiring into the possibility of using nuclear power, but ignored by its opponents.

The two most dramatic advances have been in waste disposal and the development of small modular reactors. The waste issue has been the greatest barrier in Australia to consideration of nuclear and the excuse used by most opponents to silence supporters. Finland, which has four nuclear reactors and is building a fifth to replace its coal-fired generation, has solved the waste issue while proving a good example for Australia in dealing with this issue.

Finnish waste management company Posiva announced a “significant building services agreement” as part of a series of contracts already concluded relating to the construction of a nuclear waste disposal facility on Finland’s west coast.

Using a version of the vitrification technology developed in France — and refined in other parts of the world including Australia with its Synroc technology — the waste will be incorporated into borosilicate, a glass impervious to water, the problematic mobilising agent that must be thwarted. It will then be encased in metal canisters and deposited deep underground in granite bedrock that has been free of tectonic movement for millions of years and is forecast to remain stable for many millions of years to come.

Posiva already has received in-principle approval from the Finnish parliament and a construction licence from the government. The local community of about 10,000, which has been extensively consulted, supports it. The way is clear for completing the construction, securing an operating licence and commissioning the repository by 2023.

The Finns are confident it will prove to the world once and for all that high-level nuclear waste can be handled safely and permanently.

The world is moving quickly towards development of small modular reactors. Defined as having a capacity of less than 300 megawatts — but some as small as 5MW — these reactors are built in factories to standard designs and can be placed in line to provide larger capacities.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has just issued Nu Scale Power, the leading American company in the field, with a final safety evaluation report, the first for an American SMR. Four Canadian provinces have joined in support for the development of SMRs.

A few months ago Russia commissioned a floating nuclear power plant that carries two 35MW reactors. It is now connected to the grid.

China is building its version of an SMR in Hainan province. The chief engineer of China’s State Power Investment Corporation told the World Nuclear Association’s annual conference this month: “We also use modular construction, with a shorter construction period, and this has enhanced economic performance.”

The chief executive of GE-Hitachi, one of the leading providers of advanced reactors, said at that conference the flexibility of SMRs means they will be able to support a variety of activities beyond electricity generation, providing cost-competitive and environmentally friendly power for uses such as hydrogen production, desalination, district heating and industrial use.

SMRs would be ideal for us. They are readily transportable and ideal for regional areas. They can be placed quickly in sites where coal-fired plants have been decommissioned, connecting to the existing grid and replacing the baseload capacity. But Australia sits paralysed, with no baseload options for the future, while the nuclear world moves on apace.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has put nuclear on a “watching brief” in his “technology roadmap”. At least he hasn’t ruled it out.

John Maynard Keynes gave Australians a rationale for a rethink on nuclear with that famous remark: “When the facts change, I change my mind.”
The Australian

Like this:

Like Loading…

Related

via STOP THESE THINGS

https://ift.tt/2SqpacI

October 4, 2020 at 01:32AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s