Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government must fund nuclear power- Barrie Hill of SMR Technology

Barrie Hill gives an insight into just what the global nuclear lobby wants from Australia.  They want to overturn Australia’ s laws prohibiting nuclear activities, and get the tax-payer to fund the development of the nuclear industry in Australia

His submission (no.60) to the FEDERAL. Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia is a fine example of the nuclear-lobby-speak that is turning up in these submissions from nuclear power experts.  He’s the Managing Director of SMR Technology, and makes sure to outline his impressive background in the industry.

His is a long submission, in 3 long documents.  Here are snatches from his main document.:


Hill says that for Australia replacing coal with nuclear will be “ the least cost alternative “. He recommends a South Korean type nuclear chain. Says that “the viability and advantages of small modular reactors is fully covered in a separate submission”. Recommends setting up a Federal government authority to lead Australia’s nuclear program. Recommends the South Korean Advanced Power Reactor 1000MWe (APR1000).

It is recommended that the groundwork for an inevitable future nuclear power program is put in place beginning with the removal of all legislated prohibitions and increased support or familiarisation and training programs.”

the government will need to guarantee high level positions with appropriate salaries for  qualified persons coming from existing nuclear areas”

Recommends used fuel storage to be ready by 10 years from first plant commissioning “and that storage allow for eventual fuel recovery”. Wants high regulation and documentation, and sites for reactors chosen early.

Outlines his strong background in the nuclear industry.

Discusses the needs for electricity, and limitations of renewable energy. Criticises the electricity marketing structure. All existing subsidies should be removed. Says base-load power is critically needed. Wants a single independent Australian Electricity Commission to be set up.

Goes on at length and in detail about projected.electricity costs. The development of nuclear reactors for power generation provides a cost effective, safe, and reliable option for the progressive replacement of the current Australian base load generation fleet.” and suggests direct replacement by Small Modular Reactors.

Says that Westinghouse indicated a  good potential for widespread industry involvement within Australia”.

Hill attributes the “difficult acceptance” of nuclear power to “accident outcomes sensationalised by technically uninformed media.”

At an early point in the process the Federal and State governments should act to remove all legislative bans prohibiting a final decision to proceed so that the work may be developed unobstructed and finally judged on it’s merits. It is clear that the existence of the bans has restricted expenditure on thorough analysis to date particularly by government  agencies and has been a severe detriment to the establishment of a coherent energy policy for the nation.”

He moves on to “Stage 2” – a feasibility study, resulting in a “national investment decision”, the forming of a Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organisation, bring in many experts, including foreign experts for “high level knowledge” . Recommends Government Leadership and Continuous Investment in Nuclear Infrastructure….. “ The Australian government therefore should play a lead role in the program from the initial phase with investment funds, manpower selection, and appropriate planning –

With the existence of a firm financial guarantee from the government local and overseas companies will actively participate in the national nuclear power construction program with reduced risk. ”.

Only an Australian government agency can arrange and manage the required level of investment estimated to total $150B to eventually replace all retiring coal fired power stations, to ensure maximum benefit for the Australian community and minimum riskThe Reserve Bank has noted that this time of unprecedented low interest rates is the perfect  opportunity for government investment in productive new assets such as power stations.

Lengthy discussion on need for training and education especially tertiary. International co-operation, especially on safeguards. Need for a standard nuclear design.

[on nuclear wastes)”The work carried out for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission based in South Australia has provided sufficiently detailed pre-feasibility studies to commence final feasibility work for the implementation of used fuel storage in Australia. It is recommended that used fuel storage be available ten years from first plant commissioning and that storage allow for eventual fuel recovery.”

Recommends importing nuclear wastes, as a way to fund nuclear power development :“The economic viability and revenue streams defined for used fuel import storage as part of the work carried out by the South Australian Royal Commission could in the extreme provide sufficient revenue to fund the development of a nuclear power program for all of Australia. This massive economic opportunity cannot be overlooked”

Need for a strong independent regulator.

On insurance, Hill explains why beyond a certain level risk had to be socialised. It is now understood that the state needs to accept responsibility as insurer of last resort”

Hill dismisses the idea of any necessary connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons proliferation.

Discusses how to organise a leadership team, then process for choosing sites for reactors.

Discusses radiation at length, tending to minimise the health effects of Chernobyl and Fukushima, and reassures about the nuclear industry’s good safety culture.

Recent OECD and local studies suggest that Federal action to introduce nuclear power is the only economically viable option to meet minimum cost of supply, maximum reliability of supply, and key environmental imperatives for the Australian electricity sector.”

Hill gives detail on choosing a reactor type- recommending a Korean one.

On risk analysis – “Humans are poor risk managers, focusing too much on consequences and too little on probabilities – something insurance and lottery salesmen relish.Gives lengthy detail on risk identification and risk mitigation. He includes not only safety risks, but also financial risks, and ways to mitigate them.

Finally, Hill turns to the issue of climate change, recommending nuclear power for reducing greenhouse gases, and replacing coal power.

The Federal government will be required to manage the financing, construction and operation of all nuclear power stations for the foreseeable future.
A prerequisite for the investment is the establishment of a government leadership andmanagement control organisation the Australian Electricity Corporation”

“ It is time for the Australian Federal government to lead a strategy for change before all those benefits are
irretrievably lost.”

September 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is fuelling climate change, and WMDs — RenewEconomy

The premise of Australian inquiry is that “new technologies in the field are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production.” They are not. The post The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is fuelling climate change, and WMDs appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is fuelling climate change, and WMDs — RenewEconomy

September 12, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Up until 7 September, submissions to Federal Nuclear Inquiry were 50/50 pro and con

Submissions to the Federal Nuclear Inquiry? What are people saying?

Up until 7 September, 38 submissions have been published on the website of the Federal Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia

The numbers of submissions  for and against nuclear power are almost 50/50. However, as some submissions may be confidential, we can’t really be sure of the numbers.

The main arguments In the pro nuclear submissions.

The topic mentioned most often was – advocating for thorium nuclear reactors. Pro nuclear submissions also tended to focus on a call for public education about nuclear power, and a need to remove Australia’s laws that prohibit the nuclear industry. Several submissions concentrated on the question of nuclear wastes – arguing that this was not such a problem and a solution would be found. Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) were recommended, as cost effective.

The main arguments in the anti nuclear submissions

Overwhelmingly, the most selected topic was economics – the costs of nuclear power, and the government subsidies needed. Nearly as often mentioned was renewable energy, and its role in reducing greenhouse gases. Another big concern was the safety risks of nuclearpower. There were several mentions of water use of nuclear power, of radioactive waste problems, and risks of terrorism and of nuclear weapons proliferation.

There were a variety of other concerns raised by both sides. Radiation is a hotly argued issue. Its hazards are discussed by Paul Savi (Submission No 4), but Erlc Gribble (No 38) argues that low dose radiation is not harmful, in fact can be beneficial (radiation hormesis).

The anti nuclear arguments included social and political claims –  that nuclear power has no social licence (EcoEnviro Pty Ltd – Richard Finlay-Jones Submisson 6), – that there is historic Australian opposition – hence the ban, (Greig  Myer Submission 25),  – the undemocratic history of nuclear activities in Australia,(Paul Savi, Submission 4)

Other anti-nuclear claims- that Australia shouldn’t be the first to try out SMRs, that renewables would provide more employment, that Aboriginals’ historic care of the land should be respected, (Trish Frail 32) .

On the pro nuclear side, there’s some exasperation at Australians’ lack of knowledge about nuclear power. Robert Gishubl (Submission 28) rails at “the irrational faith based objections many people have”. Eric Gribble (38) writes of “a widespread paranoid concern” about radiation, – “It is easy to be a green. You simply oppose everything “.

Pro nuclear suggestions in include first getting an international nuclear waste facility in South Australia, which would then fund the development of Generation IV nuclear reactors –  (Matthew Gustafson,  (20).   Keith Thompson (11) suggests that the government offer generous awards for people who produce solutions to nuclear waste disposal.  Geoffrey Hudson (37) warns on delay problems for land-based reactors, and advocates reactors on barges at sea. Ian Fischer(No 8) recommends a voluntary postal plebiscite to allow Australians to decide about a nuclear future. Eric Gribble (38) is keen on nuclear power’s ability to further Australia’s role in space research.
Even on the pro nuclear side, there are some reservations, and not all are sceptical of renewable energy.  Goronwy Price (35) sees nuclear as a support to renewables. Geoff Billard, (31)’s support for nuclear power is conditional on it being cost-effective.

At this stage, it’s hard to assess the general opinions on ” the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia”.  Submissions are accepted until September 16th. So there will probably a new rash of submissions published, over the next weeks. .  The ones published so far have been relatively short. We can expect some longer and more detailed ones from various companies and organisations.


September 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull says renewables plus storage are cheaper than coal and nuclear for new power generation. Is he correct?

RMIT ABC Fact Check  ABC News, 11 Sept 19,  “……  Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull chipped in to the debate with a recent tweet claiming: “The bottom line is renewables + storage are cheaper than new coal let alone the loopy current fad of nuclear power which is the current weapon of mass distraction for the backbench.”

Is new generation from renewables plus storage cheaper than new coal or nuclear generation? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdictMr Turnbull’s claim is a fair call.

There is some uncertainty around cost estimates for different power generation technologies.

Under current policy settings and economic conditions, it is generally cheaper to produce electricity from wind or solar sources than it would be using a new coal or nuclear plant, with or without “storage”……

The best available data suggests that under current conditions, nuclear energy would not be a cheaper source of electricity than renewables, as Mr Turnbull points out……….

September 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Kimba or the Flinders Ranges – nuclear sacrifice zone?

Susan Craig Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA

Yet the Federal Government plan to store this nuclear waste indefinitely, above ground, on earthquake prone land, on floodplains in a canister that has a design life of 40 years, with no plans for a permanent facility and hope that future generations will come up with new ideas for a permanent disposal and the financial resources to implement them. This is an unethical neglect of responsibility and dangerous for the people of South Australia.

The Federal Government admits that Australia does not have enough nuclear waste to justify a safe, permanent facility for Intermediate Level Nuclear Waste and they have NO PLANS to build one.

This can only mean one of two outcomes. Leave it indefinitely in Kimba or The Flinders Ranges and expect our children to deal with it. Or, they will offer South Australia to become the International Sacrifice Zone to dispose of the world’s nuclear waste, enabling us to financially deal with our own.

Quote from the office of Kim Carr. “We have to get the nuclear waste out of Lucas Heights, because it’s too dangerous to have it in densely populated metropolitan Sydney.” Well if it’s too dangerous for Sydney, it’s too dangerous for South Australia. Both Steven Marshall and Peter Malinauskashave been asleep at the wheel on this and we need to wake up South Australia now before it’s too late. There is a nuclear waste site ballot taking place in Kimba next month which will likely decide the fate of our state. Only people within those precincts are allowed to vote, 99% of South Australian’s cannot vote on this. Call Steven Marshalll and Peter Malinauskas or your local MP and demand they stop the ballot process and engage with the people of South Australia. We cannot be a Sacrifice Zone

September 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is too costly and too risky,

Nuclear power is too costly and too risky,

Todd Larsen,  Sept. 11, 2019
Nuclear power is not the solution to climate change. Those who tuned into CNN’s town hall on climate change may have been surprised to hear nuclear power come up repeatedly. Nuclear power is often proposed as a solution because, unlike fossil fuels, it does not emit climate changing gases. But, unlike other zero emissions technologies such as solar and wind, nuclear poses enormous risks to the environment and communities, and it’s too costly to boot.

Nuclear power raises all the dangers inherent in working with radioactive materials. Mining uranium produces tailings that create radon emissions and also pollutes soil and water with sulfuric acids and cyanic salts. Spent nuclear fuel can remain radioactive for thousands of years.

And there is always the risk of a catastrophic accident or terrorist attack that can release enormous amounts of radiation. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima all offer potent warnings of just how much can go wrong. There are already 448 operable nuclear power plants in the world, with 53 under construction. These plants pose significant risks, and adding more would be irresponsible.
Some people acknowledge the risks of nuclear but then argue that because the impacts of climate change are so much greater, we need to adopt nuclear power despite the risks. But that argument overlooks the fact that we don’t need nuclear to get to zero emissions energy. Studies, including a recent one from Energy Watch Group of Germany and LUT University in Finland, demonstrate that we can meet 100% of our energy needs with renewable energy.

These renewable technologies are already cost competitive with fossil fuels, unlike nuclear power, where plants under construction regularly experience multiple delays and cost overruns, making them prohibitively expensive.

It’s time we gave up on the delusion of nuclear power as a solution to climate change and scaled up the proven winners of solar and wind, along with increased energy efficiency.

September 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The end of the affair between France and the nuclear industry?

France’s nuclear love affair shows signs of souring,   September 11, 2019

Electricite de France SA’s announcement that some of its nuclear reactors at home may contain substandard components is the latest setback in the country’s 40-year love affair with atomic energy.

France launched its nuclear program in the 1970s to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels as unprofitable coal mines progressively closed and Western economies were roiled by two consecutive oil shocks. EDF commissioned 58 reactors between 1978 and 2002, which has seen the country get more of its power from nuclear than any other nation. It also means it’s got an aging energy infrastructure, with its oldest plants embarking on large modernization programs to extend their lifecycle.

“The French nuclear fleet is now aging, meaning that some plants will have to be halted in the next 15 years,” said Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, director of the Center for Energy at the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales. “Some say that nuclear energy is very risky. Renewable energies come with tens of thousands of jobs, but France has been lagging behind.”

After commissioning its 58th reactor in 2002, EDF started building a new type of atomic plant in 2007. Its flagship Flamanville project in Western France was initially due be completed in 2012, though it’s been beset by construction problems.

EDF has also faced setbacks at its existing fleet of French reactors. In 2016, its main supplier Framatome disclosed anomalies in manufacturing records for large equipment, leading to prolonged halts at almost a third of the utility’s reactors. Tuesday’s announcement’s by EDF that some of its reactors may contain substandard components made by Framatome, now 75.5%-owned by EDF, is reigniting fears of prolonged shutdowns.

Given France gets three quarters of its energy generation from nuclear energy, the financial impact of disruption could be severe.

“There should be a significant uplift in French and Central European power prices based on likely future French nuclear outages, which could potentially mean EDF having to buy French generation output that it is short at a premium price,” Barclays Bank analysts Peter Crampton and Dominic Nash wrote in a note.

The stakes are high for the French nuclear industry, which employs about 220,000 people. President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to reduce nuclear output to 50% of France’s power mix in 2035 by shutting down 14 aging reactors to make room for renewables.

Even as the price of electricity stemming from wind and solar has sunk below that of new nuclear builds, the French president has asked EDF to prove by mid-2021 that it can build more competitively-priced nuclear plants, to provide large volumes of carbon-free power as a 100% renewable electricity system seems likely to remain out of reach for at least several decades.

It comes as state-controlled EDF struggles to fund the billions of euros needed each year to maintain its nuclear plants and build new ones within existing cash flows. It’s considering spinning off a minority stake in an entity that would include its power-distribution, renewables and energy-services businesses to raise funds.

September 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment