Nuclear Now: Time to Scrap Subsidised Wind & Solar Scam & Back Serious Power Generation

Renewable energy rent seekers and the wind and sun cult hate nuclear power because it works, 24 x 365, whatever the weather. It doesn’t need batteries and it doesn’t need backup.

Wind and solar, on the other hand, will never amount to meaningful power sources – ever. No amount of finessing the facts can change the sudden and punishing effect of sunset and calm weather on wind and solar output; and the laws of physics and economics mean that claims about giant batteries filling the gaps are simply delusional.

And, speaking of delusional, let’s turn to Australia’s so-called ‘Energy’ Minister, Chris Bowen. A man who’s made mediocrity and baselevel incompetence the hallmark of every ministerial portfolio he has held, Bowen has sunk to levels almost unimaginable, were it not for his past track record.

Last week Bowen – keen to deflect criticism of his ludicrous 82% wind and solar power generation target and relentless attack on cheap and reliable coal-fired power – launched a cartoon-style attack on nuclear power, revealing his very own witless form of ignorance for all to see.

Here are a couple of pieces that prove the point.

Chris Bowen’s Simpsons moment on nuclear power called out
Courier Mail
James Morrow
15 May 2023

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has been accused of getting his knowledge of small modular reactors from The Simpsons at a Senate hearing where the government was accused of an “embarrassing” scare campaign against nuclear energy at the same time nations around the world are starting or expanding their own nuclear programs.

Dr Adrian Paterson, who ran Australia’s sole nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights for a dozen years as CEO of ANSTO, slammed Mr Bowen over an antinuclear video the Energy Minister posted on social media attacking the Opposition’s support for small modular reactors.

In one part of Mr Bowen’s video, images of yellow barrels with radiation symbols in a field that appeared to be an AI-generated picture taken from a stock photography site were displayed as the minister claimed that “we’ve struggled here in Australia to store the nuclear fuel rods from our one small medical reactor” at Lucas Heights.

Dr Paterson, giving evidence before hearings on whether Australia’s nuclear ban should be lifted, said this “was a Greenpeace meme which is used to make people frightened of nuclear energy”.

Dr Paterson added he thought the video, which Mr Bowen’s office briefly removed from the internet before reposting “gravely concerned” him because it “maligned the very carefully trained and committed workforce at ANSTO”.

“Reflection should be given to the deep damage that this political gamesmanship which is maybe funny in very small circles in the Australian political setting but it is not funny as a nation and it is not funny for our standing in the world,” Dr Paterson said.

“As the Minister (Mr Bowen’s) job is to think about (carbon) and how to reduce it … this is a 100 year challenge (and) whatever side of politics you are on you can find a space for nuclear in Australia if you are prepared to take a reasoned and careful look.”

NSW senator and shadow assistant energy spokeswoman Hollie Hughes said of Mr Bowen’s nuclear waste barrels, “he might have gotten it from The Simpsons opening credits”.

It is “embarrassing … that the minister in this area … doesn’t have the basic ability to tell the truth in this area,” she said, calling it a “fictional, fantasist scare campaign” she said.

Along with waste issues, Mr Bowen’s video also claimed that nuclear power was too expensive, with small modular reactors costing as much as $5 billion a piece.

In the hearings Ms Hughes questioned claims by CSIRO that nuclear was necessarily more expensive than other forms of energy, given that more than a dozen countries including Canada, South Korea, Poland, and Japan are all starting or expanding their nuclear generation programs.

According to the World Nuclear Association, there are around 60 reactors under construction around the world, and 30 countries are considering, planning, or starting nuclear power programs.

“Everyone accepts that the up front costs are always expensive, rewiring the nation for these grids is $100 billion minimum, there isn’t a renewables company that isn’t subsidised by the taxpayer … (how is it) Australia is so diferent to these other countries?” Ms Hughes said.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Dr Paterson said that bans on nuclear power did not make sense any more given that so much of the “narrative” against nuclear energy was about it being too expensive.

“In a democracy it does not seem sensible to ban things that are expensive but not dangerous,” he said.

“Politicians should stop stoking inappropriate fears and have a rational discourse based on facts.

“Engineering and science compellingly shows that nuclear in the mix eliminates more carbon dioxide than any other method.”

He added that experience had shown that once wind and solar penetration hit around 40 per cent in a grid, the cost of adding more renewables would increase.

Pointing to Germany, which has taken its nuclear reactors offline only to restart brown coal generators to firm up renewables, Dr Paterson said that without nuclear, “even with much more wind and solar we will never decarbonise our grid.”
Courier Mail

How long can Jim Chalmers and Chris Bowen ignore the nuclear answer?
The Australian
Tony Grey
19 May 2023

The May budget laid bare the serious energy challenges confronting Australia. This challenge is made more complex by rising consumer prices and the potential for economic disruption unless the government mobilises not only sufficient energy resources to meet rising demand, but to maintain reliable energy flows amid the ongoing restructuring away from carbon-fired electricity.

Jim Chalmers reiterated the government’s daunting target for renewables to supply 82 per cent of the nation’s energy by 2030 (up from 29 per cent today). He was not convincing.

Despite his green credentials, Chalmers admitted in his budget speech to the ongoing need for gas as firming energy support for renewables when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

It’s a big call given the extent of opposition to fossil fuels among climate activists, many of them Labor supporters. Amazingly, given the ambition of Labor’s shift away from fossil fuels (despite the ongoing reliance on gas) – and the escalating levels of investment needed in solar and wind generation to meet expected demand and avoid blackouts – he failed to call upon the obvious potential option of carbon-free nuclear power.

Paradoxically, Chalmers has made the task of bringing gas to the rescue more difficult by subjecting it to price controls, a burden likely to retard investment in new exploration and development. And the whole energy situation is being brought closer to crisis by the premature closing of several large coal-fired plants and the delays in completing Snowy Hydro 2.0, which is supposed to supply some of the firming needed.

No mention also is made of where the electricity will come from to power all the electric vehicles the government wants Australians to own. Labor has a market share target for EVs of 80 per cent. The average EV requires 30KWH to travel 160km, the same amount needed to fully power a normal home for a day. California projects that EVs will consume 5.4 per cent of the state’s electricity by 2030.

In view of all this, it is irresponsible to ignore nuclear. Peter Dutton is right when he criticises the government for failing to even consider it. And the case for nuclear power in Australia is strengthening all the time, particularly for the use of the latest technology in nuclear generation, the small modular reactors. These generators are a fraction of the size – and cost – and nothing like the visions of large, old-technology plants portrayed by nuclear’s opponents such as Energy Minister Chris Bowen.

Advancements in nuclear technology mean that passive features ensure utmost safety in modern generators, especially SMRs. Waste disposal has moved well on recently too with Finland at the forefront with its west coast Onkalo facility, supported by proven technology, the local community and national government (including the Green Party).

When commissioned, as expected next year, it will demonstrate to the world that nuclear waste can be safely and permanently sequestered. And other countries, including Canada, France, Switzerland and Sweden, are following suit. It’s becoming increasingly clear that carbon emissions-free SMRs could play a critical role in weaning Australia off fossil fuels. The SMRs are manufactured in modules to a single design, facilitating regulatory approvals, saving cost and time.

The modules can be added together in one location and would be ideal, for instance, for repurposing coal-fired power stations after they have been closed, to meet energy needs, or individually trucked to regional or remote areas to provide power, to small or medium-sized towns, or for mines. SMRs would use much of existing infrastructure, including transmission lines, and not require the billions of dollars in new transmission networks.

Across the world more and more attention is being directed to SMRs. Seventy designs are under development in 18 countries. North American and European governments are providing substantial funds and encouragement to companies to roll out their SMRs, many of which are being developed by well-known names such as Westinghouse, Rolls-Royce and Hitachi.

The power generation utility of Ontario, Canada, has teamed with Hitachi to construct an SMR unit, which is scheduled to begin supplying electricity to the grid by 2029. The Canadian government has budgeted $120m to support the development of SMRs, which its Energy Minister said offers a “promising pathway to support Canada’s low-carbon energy transition”.

Some opponents of nuclear power claim incorrectly that the costs of SMRs are too high when compared to renewables. When capital costs are spread over the 25-year life of solar plants (20 for wind) and the 60-year life of SMRs, and the cost of hundreds of kilometres of transmission lines (not needed for SMRs since they take up so little space) is included, the result is that SMRs are half the cost of renewables. Also, when more SMR modules are produced in the future, economies of scale will drive down their costs significantly.

It’s inconceivable that the 18 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, several European nations and China would move towards SMRs if the costs were too high. How can our government just stand by in the lassitude of ignorance and not at least include it in the discussion of future energy options?

In view of the worldwide move to SMRs and their demonstrable advantages, surely it is time for the government to repeal the outdated legislation prohibiting Australia from the carbon-free contribution of nuclear power and allow it to be part of the discussion at least on Australia’s emissions-free energy mix.
The Australian


May 21, 2023 at 02:31AM

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