opinion

Daniel Smith: Old-school scare tactics on nuclear power are misplaced

Daniel Smith
The Nightly
1 Min Read
I have an open mind about nuclear power, and I recognise the greenhouse gas emissions the world avoids through its existing nuclear power stations.
I have an open mind about nuclear power, and I recognise the greenhouse gas emissions the world avoids through its existing nuclear power stations. Credit: distelAPPArath/Pixabay

I have an open mind about nuclear power.

I recognise the greenhouse gas emissions the world avoids through its existing nuclear power stations.

Without Australia’s wind, solar, and gas resources, some countries need new nuclear power to decarbonise.

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Environmentally, it also makes sense to me for Australian uranium to be used as feedstock rather than uranium from Kazakhstan — the world’s largest uranium producer.

I also think we shouldn’t shy away from a discussion about nuclear power in Australia. But let’s set some ground rules for the debate.

Firstly, let’s avoid an old-school scare campaign on safety. With nuclear subs set to berth in Australian ports under AUKUS, this won’t be credible.

Second, let’s not pretend that the mining, processing, and infrastructure required to support renewables and batteries come without environmental impact.

Third, let’s compare apples with apples in terms of energy prices. AEMO and the CSIRO have calculated the comparative and all-inclusive costs of new energy options in Australia, including nuclear. Their GenCost work is worth a read.

Fourth, let’s be clear-eyed about the next 15 years under any coal-to-nuclear strategy. Existing coal-fired power stations will continue to emit greenhouse gas emissions. If renewables are to meet this need, we’ll need plenty of new generation capacity for our growing population before nuclear arrives, as well as new transmission infrastructure.

Open minds deserve honest debates.

Daniel Smith is executive chair of ReGen Strategic.

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