Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear power – never a realistic option for Australia.

Peter Dutton wants Australia to consider nuclear power. SBS News 13 Aug 22,

“…………………………………………. In one of his most significant policy moves as Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton has been agitating for a public discussion over nuclear power……… He announced the Coalition would be formally reviewing Australia’s potential to adopt “next-generation nuclear technologies”.

………………………….. Worldwide, there are mixed feelings on how much reliance should be placed on nuclear energy………………….

Could Australia have its own nuclear industry?

Climate Energy Finance director Tim Buckley said building a homegrown nuclear power industry would never be a realistic option for a country like Australia.

He said it was extremely costly to build, required expertise Australia doesn’t have, and the public would never be comfortable with the storage of radioactive waste.

“It would be very charitable to think that Australia could have a nuclear power plant operational in the next 10 or even 20 years,” he said.

“I would absolutely bet against that probability. And the only way you could do it is with $20 billion or $30 billion of government funding underwriting the project.”………………………………………….

Energy finance analyst Bruce Robertson said investing in conventional nuclear would be a waste of money for Australia.

“We’ve got no expertise in the construction of nuclear power plants, we’ve got no expertise in their operation.

“We don’t have lots of nuclear engineers – they don’t exist in Australia. So if we wanted to build a nuclear industry here, it’s going to take a very large upfront cost.”

Could Australia build a nuclear reactor?

Australia currently has only one nuclear reactor, which is a government-run facility at Lucas Heights in Sydney. That reactor doesn’t produce electricity – rather, it is mostly used to generate chemical elements used in medicine.

While Lucas Heights produces a comparatively tiny amount of nuclear waste, there has been fierce debate within Australia over where it should be stored. Mr Buckley said this would only intensify with commercial-scale nuclear energy.

“Nuclear is a very, very divisive topic in the energy space,” he said.

“It is clearly zero emissions – but it generates toxic waste, and there is no solution for that. There are a lot safer and cheaper alternatives.”……………………………..

Nuclear fusion

………………….. Dr Adi Paterson is the former chief executive of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation – one of Australia’s largest publicly-funded research bodies. Now he is working with an Australian start-up called HB11, which aims to commercialise nuclear fusion technology.

While nuclear fusion is incredibly promising, it has also proved to be technically frustrating. Researchers are still struggling to create conditions in which nuclear fusion produces more electricity than it requires to run……………..

The world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor is currently under construction in southern France, at a cost upwards of $21 billion.

Some 35 countries, including Australia, have been involved in the construction of the ITER reactor, one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world. Plagued by construction delays, it is now expected to start powering up in 2025.

Mr Buckley said nuclear fusion could be useful in the long term, but would not be ready soon enough to solve the immediate problems caused by global warming.

“When I was in nappies 55 years ago, nuclear fusion was a decade away from commercialisation,” said Mr Buckley.

“And now – 55 years later – it’s still just a decade or two away from commercialisation.”

August 16, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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