Australian news, and some related international items

UK and Australian consultancy firms get together in anticipation of nuclear submarine programme

In readiness for the commencement of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program, local consultancy Coras has formed a partnership with Britain’s Abbott Risk Consulting. Coras partners with Abbott to deepen nuclear submarine capability

 28 November 2021, The partnership between the Australian defence-focused management consultancy and the UK-headquartered risk management specialist comes ahead of Australia’s transition to a nuclear-powered submarine capability as part of its recently-struck AUKUS pact with the UK and US.

The formal agreement is built on an existing close working relationship between the two consulting firms and aims to capitalise on the melding of local knowledge and international nuclear expertise……………..

November 29, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Issue for The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA): IS ANSTO’s NUCLEAR REACTOR VIABLE?

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the national regulator of all federal government aspects of nuclear and radiation sources and activities with the prime objective of protecting and keeping safe the nation’s population and environment from the harmful effects of radiation and other nuclear pursuits.

In its regulatory role ARPANSA will shortly have to address issues linked to nuclear waste and collectively are probably the most important and significant situation that has had to be dealt with by ARPANSA since its foundation over twenty years ago

The first is the need for ARPANSA to obtain an independent andcomprehensive assessment and report on the proposed increased
production of nuclear medicine by reactor generation by the AustralianmNuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at its Lucas Heights precinct

The reason behind this is that ANSTO is relying on its production of nuclear medicine as the mainstay of its activities and intends to become a major international producer and exporter of reactor generated nuclear medicine.

However this appears to be a misconceived and purposeless intention since nuclear medicine generated by reactor isotopes is in significant decline throughout the world due to its dangerous inherent state in being used in medical diagnosis and treatment

There is a world wide turning away by the medical profession from using reactor generated nuclear medicine because of its sever danger to patients coupled with its extremely high production costs.

More alternatives to this form of nuclear medicine are already extensively used as they are far safer and pose little risk to patients and additionally are much cheaper to produce with the involvement of major international drug companies

ARPANSA should seek the independent and expert assessment and review of the proposal and intentions by ANSTO as part of the licensing process for the increased storage facility for nuclear waste at Lucas Heights recently proposed by ANSTO

The assessment and review must include a financial examination to determine commercial and economic viability of the activities and proposals by ANSTO as this is an essential ingredient of the qualifications for the licence for the increased storage capacity

Since the suitably qualified experts for the assessment are not in Australia (as in any case this could create a conflict situation) ARPANSA will need to rely on and engage the highly qualified experts in this field available
from overseas

From the general tenor and prescriptions of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and applicable regulations – which are referred to as the enabling legislation – it seems quite certain that the commercial and financial aspects must be included by ARPANSAin considering an application for a licence

This should be even more imperative since the funds sought by ANSTO for the increased storage capability at Lucas Heights are being provided by the federal government which is in direct and colloquial terms taxpayers’ money and it is an obligation of the government to protect public revenue and expenditure

There has never been any publicly released information by ANSTO on the financial aspects of the production and sale of its nuclear medicine but as justification for the production ANSTO has relied on the emotivearguments that in their lifetime everyone has or will have a need for nuclear medicine.

ANSTO claims that it has given to the government a recently commissioned independent study into future nuclear medicine supply in Australia and this study should be given to ARPANSA with all supporting information for assistance for its assessment and review as part of the licensing process.

November 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, health, reference, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

No likelihood of Australian jobs in nuclear submarine construction, nor in big Pacific vessel

as the government comes under fire from Labor over hundreds of submarine construction jobs being at risk, Defence officials also revealed that a vessel intended to conduct disaster relief missions to the Pacific would now be built overseas instead of locally.

Hybrid nuclear submarine ‘unlikely’, navy chiefs say, AFR,  Andrew Tillett
Political correspondentThe Royal Australian Navy has signalled it is unlikely to select a hybrid nuclear submarine design that combines British and American technology, in a significant concession to mitigate the risk of delays.

The head of the nuclear submarine taskforce, Vice-Admiral Jonathan Mead, told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday that Defence wanted to have at least one nuclear submarine before 2040 in a worst-case scenario and was looking to accelerate deliveries.

Officials also downplayed the possibility of leasing a submarine from the United States or the United Kingdom to avoid a capability gap with the ageing Collins class submarines, at a time China is rapidly shifting the balance in the Indo-Pacific with its military build-up.

But as the government comes under fire from Labor over hundreds of submarine construction jobs being at risk, Defence officials also revealed that a vessel intended to conduct disaster relief missions to the Pacific would now be built overseas instead of locally.

Among the mooted options are acquiring US-designed Virginia class submarines, the British Astute class, partnering with the UK on the design of its new attack submarines or a hybrid of the British and American boats.

However, it is unclear what level of Australian content will be incorporated into the submarine despite the government’s intention to build them in Adelaide, nor whether it would be possible to use an American combat system in a UK-designed boat……….. As part of the Pacific Step-up announcement in 2018, the government said it would acquire a large-hulled support vessel for humanitarian missions in the south-west, but the committee heard the government had confirmed in recent months to buy the ship from overseas.

“This is another Morrison government announcement not delivered,” Senator Wong said.Foreign Minister Marise Payne said a lack of capacity in Australian shipyards in Adelaide and Perth meant there was no room to build the new Pacific vessel…….“I don’t regard it as reneging on the commitment,” Senator Payne said.

October 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

$6000 a day to one US advisor to Australia on getting nuclear submarines. How much to the 3 new ones?

American-dominated panel advising government on submarines as Defence eyes US and UK choices for nuclear fleet, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene, ABC, 25Oct 21.

Three senior American shipbuilding executives are being paid to advise Australia on submarines, but the defence department and government are refusing to say what their work involves or how much they are costing.

Key points:

  • Defence is refusing to discuss the role or salaries of the American officials on the Submarine Advisory Committee
  • Senators are expected to examine the work of the submarine committee during Senate Estimates hearings this week
  • Industry insiders believe the submarine committee needs a British official given the UK’s role in AUKUS

Senators are this week expected to grill officials over the role of the Submarine Advisory Committee, which was formed by the Turnbull government in 2017, a year after a French company was selected for the now dumped $90 billion Attack-class program.

………  Over the next year and a half, the defence department’s Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force will work with Australia’s British and American AUKUS partners to identify the best way to acquire a fleet to replace the scrapped French project……. Retired Admiral Donald Kirkland, Jim Hughes and Donald McCormack are all veterans of the US shipbuilding sector and their current three-year appointments to the committee are due to end in May 2024.

Admiral Kirkland is the chairman of American company Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), which builds US Virginia-class submarines, Mr Hughes has also worked for HII, and Mr McCormack is an executive director at the US military’s Naval Sea Systems Command.

Questions sent by the ABC to the defence department last week concerning how much Submarine Advisory Committee members are paid, and what interactions they now have with the Nuclear-Powered task force, remain unanswered.

While Defence is yet to respond to questions about remuneration, an 18-month contract from 2018 uncovered by the ABC, shows Admiral Kirkland was paid $675,000 for his advisory services.

Earlier this month, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead confirmed his secretive “Capability Enhancement Review” completed ahead of the Morrison government’s nuclear submarine announcement had not worked with the advisory committee.

Jostling between British and American companies for Australia’s future nuclear-powered fleet is well underway with early debate emerging over whether a US Virginia-class or UK Astute-class submarine is the best base model

Defence industry insiders are now privately questioning whether the government will appoint any British experts to the Submarine Advisory Panel given the United Kingdom’s membership of AUKUS and the country’s extensive experience with nuclear boats.

Last month, it was revealed former US Navy Secretary Donald Winter was being paid $US6,000 a day as an advisor to the federal government on shipbuilding matters.Defence industry insiders are now privately questioning whether the government will appoint any British experts to the Submarine Advisory Panel given the United Kingdom’s membership of AUKUS and the country’s extensive experience with nuclear boats.

Last month, it was revealed former US Navy Secretary Donald Winter was being paid $US6,000 a day as an advisor to the federal government on shipbuilding matters.

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Greenland soon to reinstate its ban on uranium mining

Within weeks, Greenland’s parliament, the Inatsisartut, is expected to
pass a bill reinstating a ban on uranium mining that was lifted in 2013
following pressure from mining companies. “The Greenlandic minister with
responsibility for minerals has publicly stated that a ban on uranium
mining will put an end to all future uranium mining, full stop,” Mariane
Paviasen, a Greenland MP and leading activist in the anti-uranium mining
movement, Urani? Naamik (Uranium? No), told Green Left.

 Green Left 20th Oct 2021

October 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

All nuclear reactors are very expensive, but small nuclear reactors are even more expensive

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels

  • ”…………………….Small Modular Reactors Are More Expensive An SMR is a Small Modular Reactor.  There have been claims these will provide cheap energy in the future, but this seems unlikely given their designers have stated that…
    • Before cost overruns are considered, SMRs will produce electricity at a higher cost than current nuclear reactor designs.Being more expensive than conventional nuclear power is a major obstacle for any plan to supply energy at a lower cost. 
  • The advantage of SMRs is they are supposed to be less likely to suffer from disastrous cost overruns.  This means they are a more expensive version of a type of generation that is already too expensive for Australia before cost overruns. While any cost overruns that do occur may not be as bad as conventional nuclear, that’s not what I call a good deal.  

  • There is nothing new about small nuclear reactors.  India has over a dozen reactors of 220 megawatts or less in operation.  But all Indian reactors now under construction are larger because they want to reduce costs.  Technically their small reactors aren’t modular because major components weren’t constructed at one site and then moved to where they were used.  This leads to another major problem with SMRs…
    • They don’t exist. Before Australia can deploy an SMR, a suitable prototype reactor will have to be successfully built and operated. Then a commercial version will need to be developed and multiple units constructed overseas without serious cost overruns and used long enough to show they can be operated safely and cheaply. Given nuclear’s prolonged development cycle, this could easily take over 20 years.  The very best estimate for the cost of electricity from an SMR I have seen is around 6.2 cents per kilowatt-hour and it relies on everything going perfectly — a rare thing for nuclear power.  It also leaves out several costs that have to be paid in the real world.  :……….

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is too expensive for Australia.

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels

Australia recently decided to buy nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS pact with the UK and United States. 

Assuming it goes ahead, the first sub may be ready around 2040.  But while our submarines may have nuclear reactors, our power stations never will.

There is a simple reason Australia will never have nuclear power despite deciding to get reactors that wander around under the ocean.  The reason is…

  • Nuclear power is too expensive for Australia.
  • Every other concern — whether it’s safety, waste disposal, decommissioning, insurance, or location — is irrelevant because nuclear energy can’t clear the first and vital hurdle of making economic sense. Some suggest building nuclear power in addition to renewables because the threat from global roasting is so great we should fight emissions using every means at our disposal.  But this would be counterproductive because:
  • Nuclear power consumes resources that would result in greater emission cuts if used for solar and wind generation plus energy storage.
  • In other words, $1 spent on solar power will cut greenhouse gas emissions far more than $1 spent on nuclear energy.Finally, some people say we need nuclear power to provide a steady source of low emission baseload generation, but this suggestion is completely nuts.  Even if we built nuclear power stations, they would soon be driven out of the market in the same way coal power is because:
    • Nuclear power has exactly the wrong characteristics to be useful in a grid with a high penetration of solar and wind.Australia currently doesn’t have a nuclear power industry, and building submarines with American made sealed reactors that are never refuelled will do next to nothing to make nuclear power more cost-effective.  In this article, I’ll explain why nuclear power makes no economic sense in Australia, and at the end, I’ll also whinge a bit about nuclear submarines.  ………..
  • Nuclear Power Is Ridiculously Expensive The cost of energy from new nuclear isn’t just expensive; it’s ridiculously expensive.  Here are examples of reactors under construction in developed countries, using Australian dollars at today’s exchange rate:

  • Finland’s Olkiluoto #3 reactor:
      So far, this 1.6 Gigawatt reactor has cost about $14 billion, which is around $8,750 per kilowatt of power output.  Construction started in 2005 and was scheduled to be completed in 2009.  Due to delays, it’s now scheduled to commence normal operation in February 2022 for a total construction time of 17 years. 
  • France’s Flammanville #3 reactor:  The cost of this 1.6 gigawatt reactor is approximately $31 billion.  That’s $19,400 per kilowatt.  Normal operation is scheduled for 2023 — 16 years after construction began. 
  • UK’s Hinkley Point C:  These two reactors will provide 3.2 gigawatts of power and cost around $42 billion.  That’s $13,100 per kilowatt.  Construction began in 2018, and they’re currently scheduled to come online in 2026.
  • US Vogtle 3 & 4:  These two reactors in Georgia (the US state, not where Stalin was born) will total 3.2 gigawatts and, by the time they are complete, may cost over $38 billion.  That’s around $12,000 per kilowatt.  Construction started in 2013, and they’re expected to come online next year.  These are the only commercial reactors being built in the United States. 
  • As you can see, new nuclear isn’t cheap.  Note these aren’t the most expensive reactors under construction in Western Europe and North America, they’re the only ones under construction.     If you think these reactors are expensive to build but provide cheap electricity, that’s not the case.  The Hinkley Point C reactors under construction will receive a minimum of 21 cents per kilowatt-hour they supply for 35 years after they come online.  If the wholesale electricity price goes above 21 cents, they’ll receive that instead.  The 21 cents is indexed to inflation, so it will remain ridiculously expensive for the full 35 years. In the US, households in Georgia will have paid around $1,200 each towards the new Vogtle reactors by the time they come online. After that, their electricity bills will increase by around 10% to pay for the new nuclear electricity.  For another nuclear power station to be constructed in the US would require a payment per kilowatt-hour similar to or higher than Hinkley Point C. ………………..

………….. Poor Choice For Emission Reductions. Some people ask…“Why not build both nuclear and renewable capacity to reduce CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible?”

The answer is…“Because every dollar invested in nuclear will cut emissions by much less than a dollar spent on renewables.”

If the goal is to cut emissions rapidly, it’s counterproductive to invest in nuclear.  Australia doesn’t have existing nuclear capacity or a half-built reactor, so whether it makes sense to keep old reactors operating or complete construction doesn’t come into it.Nuclear capacity isn’t quick to build.  Some notable examples:

  • Olkiluoto 3
     — 17 years
  • Flammanville 3 — 16 years
  • Watts Bar 2 — 43 years
  • Because Australia has no nuclear power industry, it would take more than five years to build a nuclear power station even if we could start construction today1. But Australia can increase its solar energy generation almost immediately.  Extra wind power will take months to arrange, as wind turbine purchases are more complex than just ordering extra solar panels and inverters.  Firming the grid with energy storage is also fast.  The world’s largest battery, the Hornsdale Power Reserve or “Tesla Big Battery”, was built in 100 days.Whether cost or time are considered, nuclear energy is a poor choice for reducing emissions.
  • Nuclear Energy Not Needed For Baseload GenerationOne of the craziest reasons given for building nuclear power in Australia is we need low emission baseload generators.  This idea is nuttier than a lumpy chocolate bar because:
    • No baseload generators are required.
    • Like coal, nuclear power has the wrong characteristics to support a grid with high solar and wind generation.It’s impossible to argue that we need baseload generators that run continuously (except for maintenance).  This is because South Australia has none.  The state doesn’t continuously import electricity either. 
  • Despite having no baseload generators, SA still manages to meet demand as well as other states. South Australia had coal baseload generators in the past, but as wind and solar power capacity expanded, there were increasing periods of low or zero wholesale electricity prices2 resulting from solar and wind having zero fuel costs.  Because their fuel is free, they have little or no incentive not to provide electricity even if they receive next to nothing for it. 
  • Because coal power is expensive to start and stop and saves very little money by shutting down because its fuel cost is low — but not zero — it often had no choice other than to keep operating during periods when it was losing money on every kilowatt-hour generated. In 2016 South Australia shut down its last remaining coal power station because it was no longer profitable.  This same process is happening throughout Australia as solar, wind, and energy storage capacity increases.  In a (hopefully) short period of time, renewables will drive coal power out of the market. 
  • If it doesn’t make economic sense to keep existing coal power stations around to supply baseload power, it definitely makes no sense to replace them with more expensive nuclear reactors with the same problem – that shutting down saves little money because their fuel cost is low.  Building a nuclear power station and then only using it half its potential capacity almost doubles the cost of energy it produces. 

………………. Other Nuclear Energy IssuesThere are many issues associated with nuclear power that are often discussed but are irrelevant.  I’ll quickly mention and dismiss half a dozen or so:……….

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

US and UK begin jostling to supply Australia with nuclear submarine fleet

US and UK begin jostling to supply Australia with nuclear submarine fleetABC By defence correspondent Andrew Greene10 Oct 21, ‘……….In 2021, the Australian Defence Force is again considering what role the Royal Navy could play in developing its next submarines, or whether like many modern acquisitions, it will focus on interoperability with American technology.

Under the AUKUS partnership struck in September, the leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States have agreed to work with Australia on how to build a new class of nuclear-powered submarines.

Over the next 18 months, the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force inside the Department of Defence will lead a study into the numerous regulatory issues involved in the ownership and operation of nuclear-powered boats.

While the design is not yet known, or what the criteria will be, for many commentators the existing British Astute-class is emerging as an early favourite for Australia to replace the Collins-class fleet

Others inside the defence industry believe any nuclear-powered Australian submarine will need to be an American boat, based on the Virginia-class so that it can be serviced at nearby US bases in Guam or Japan.

Both the British and US options have various advantages and disadvantages, which highlight the extraordinarily complex process the ADF faces to select a nuclear-powered submarine — which may never actually eventuate.

Already the regulatory challenges appear significant, as nothing is more complex and costly in the military world than nuclear-powered submarines, particularly for a country with no domestic nuclear industry.

In the United States, an eminent group of former officials and experts has written to President Joe Biden warning the AUKUS deal could threaten national security by encouraging hostile nations to obtain highly enriched uranium (HEU).

Australia insists it will uphold its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the engineering sector warns it will be a steep learning curve for the Defence Department.

The now dumped Attack class submarine being designed by France’s Naval Group was based on the Barracuda class, which lost three years in development because of less complex regulatory issues associated with low enriched uranium (LEU).

“This is a very long-term effort that’ll be decades, I think, before a submarine goes in the water,” US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday predicted last month…………   

October 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international | Leave a comment

Opal nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights is simply not economically viable

The BIG question is ECONOMIC VIABILITY given the continued uptake of cyclotrons worldwide. On this basis alone it will fail, but the Feds fervidly will try to continue to prop it up anyway – purely for political and NOT practical reasons!

In fact it is high time to move with the times! Canada has been through all of this already and decided to go with cyclotrons to produce their isotopes. They could no longer justify their taxpayers footing the bill for exporting isotopes and all of its inherent costs! And cyclotrons mean they can tailor make the isotopes they need rather than producing mass “available” isotopes which may or may not be used which is the model currently used for Australia!

Kazzi Jai shared a link.   Fight to stop a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, 8 Oct 21,

So….what do you do when you are ACTING MINISTER FOR SCIENCE, INDUSTRY AND TECHNOLOGY? Seems the lucky ACTING MINISTER for that portfolio- Angus Taylor – knew EXACTLY what to do on 30th September 2021!

ANSTO welcomes the joint announcement from The Acting Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham and the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP to safeguard the future of Australia’s nuclear medicine production. The government has announced it will safeguard Australia’s sovereign capability to produce vital nuclear medicines by launching a $30 million project to design a new world-leading manufacturing facility to be built at our Lucas Heights campus in Sydney. About 80 per cent of nuclear medicine isotopes used to fight diseases like cancer are produced at Lucas Heights and one of the key facilities that makes this possible is nearing the end of its operating life.” – ANSTO website “Safeguarding the future of Australia’s nuclear medicine”

When the likes of Angus Taylor uses the words “safeguard Australia’s sovereign capability”…you KNOW there’s something shonky going on! Too bad he isn’t worried about “Australia’s sovereign capability” with regards to iron, gas, water, ports, utilities, land acquisition etc etc….the list goes on!

Anyway, this “wish list” is separate to the brand new ANM facility (The Australian Nuclear Medicine Molydenum-99 Facility (ANM Mo99), which has now become known as ANSTO Nuclear Medicine Facility 😳) which cost taxpayers $168 million and has had a number of teething problems since it was built in 2019 and only has become fully functional in March 2020.

Using the wording in the announcement, the “$30 million project to design a new world-leading manufacturing facility to be built”….means this is only a commitment by the Feds to give $30 million to DESIGN the facility which will replace “building 23” which is an “ageing nuclear medical facility” according to the now ex-CEO Adi Paterson back in 2018.Ideally, ANSTO would LOVE for the Feds to cough up $210 million to replace it – probably costing more than that now, since that was quoted 2018 figures not 2021 figures!!

The BIG question is ECONOMIC VIABILITY given the continued uptake of cyclotrons worldwide. On this basis alone it will fail, but the Feds fervidly will try to continue to prop it up anyway – purely for political and NOT practical reasons! In fact it is high time to move with the times! Canada has been through all of this already and decided to go with cyclotrons to produce their isotopes. They could no longer justify their taxpayers footing the bill for exporting isotopes and all of its inherent costs! And cyclotrons mean they can tailor make the isotopes they need rather than producing mass “available” isotopes which may or may not be used which is the model currently used for Australia!

With regard to treatment,which is only a tiny amount of what isotopes are used for – they are predominantly used for diagnostic imaging- the trend now is to do the least amount of damage to normal cells as is possible. Isotopes are rather a blunt instrument in that regards, and now techniques like immunotherapy and nanotechnology are the fields of advancement in that respect.There’s even advancements in radiotherapy which went to LINAC machines (linear accelerators) many decades ago…and now proton therapy units are finding their way into our major capital cities! Neither need nuclear reactors!…/safeguarding…MINISTER.INDUSTRY.GOV.AUSafeguarding the future of critical medicine supply | Ministers for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

October 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, health, politics | Leave a comment

Trevor St Baker and the latest push for nuclear energy

Trevor St Baker and the latest push for nuclear energy, Independent Australia,  By David Paull | 2 October 2021
  Quickly following the Morrison Government’s new ill-defined arrangements to obtain nuclear technology from its UK and U.S. (AUKUS) alliance partners, we have seen a new push from nuclear advocates for a domestic nuclear power industry.

Senator Matt Canavan, the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and pieces appearing in the Murdoch media have been leading the charge. There was also a puzzling link made by Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce on ABC’s Insiders.

It wasn’t too long ago when Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s inquiry into a new domestic nuclear energy sector was held. Submissions by the nuclear industry and their lobbyists were widely condemned as containing shiploads of misinformation regarding the cost of nuclear versus renewables and the greenwashing of the carbon footprint. The Committee, however, recommended a partial lifting of the standing nuclear energy ban for ‘new and emerging technologies’.

The leading “new and emerging technology” is a reference to small modular reactors (SMRs), designed specifically to provide baseload power to the grid via a network of nuclear generators. As it turns out, Taylor has been leaking information to a far-right media outlet on the need to develop this sector in Australia with the co-operation of expertise from the UK, even with the assistance of our nuclear agency ANSTO.And here emerges a key player in this debate in Australia — the managing director of the company set up to develop this industry, Trevor St Baker.

With respect to his acknowledged need to de-carbonise our economy, Mr St Baker is on the record for claiming that “to reduce CO2 we must go nuclear” and that a rush to renewables would be a disaster for the power network. He claims that “intermittent” renewables are only projected to supply little more “than 25% annually any time soon” and that “electricity supply grids need synchronous generation supply for at least 40% of electricity demand at any time”.

Inherent in this way of thinking is that a dispatchable renewable power system backed by batteries cannot meet a base-load (24 hour) demand, a common theme expressed by other nuclear and fossil fuel lobbyists but an argument nonetheless increasingly on shaky ground. Nonetheless, the nuclear lobbying effort is attempting for all its might to gain momentum.

St Baker, depending on how you look at it, is a very clever businessman, one of the richest in Australia or one who is extremely “well connected”. His position on energy seems to many to be incongruous, attacking banks for withdrawing support for new fossil fuel ventures on the one hand yet investing substantially in renewable projects such as EV recharging stations through his Energy Innovation Fund……….

The Australian Nuclear Association (ANA) is our leading nuclear lobby group whose views on the need for a domestic nuclear industry mirror those views articulated by St Baker, including the view that SMR reactors are more or less “ready to roll”. Their latest media maintains that a poll has been conducted showing that ‘Australians support for considering nuclear energy reaches 70%’. However, the polls mentioned were conducted by the Liberal Party-affiliated Menzies Research Centre, so it’s hardly an independent poll given the Government’s past position on the issue and given the Centre’s position that ‘nuclear is beautiful’.

Like the international fossil fuel lobbying network, there are national and international bodies operating in tandem in the nuclear sector. The ANA is an affiliate of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) who it seems is conducting a vamped-up PR campaign to open new markets for nuclear power. Central to this is an emphasis on small modular reactor technology, announcing the first such reactors in Russia in December 2019 and now is most concerned by issues with licensing and design of SMRs. Other themes include the suitability of such technology for rapid changes in energy systems in response to climate issues.

Of course, this is what St Baker is banking on, literally with his considerable investment in the SMR technology.  It is clear that the ruling political party in Australia would dearly love to get behind the nuclear transition as quickly as possible. The only real stumbling block is Labor’s opposition to the concept, public opinion and our adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.,15578

October 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

AUKUS and the nuclear submarines will have economic effects on Australia, and big defence spending.

Neglected in the flush of enthusiasm that accompanied the AUKUS announcement is the likely cost of Australia’s new defence spending under a “China containment policy”.

New drives to counter China come with a major risk: throwing fuel on the Indo-Pacific arms race  SMH, Tony Walker Tony Walker is a Friend of The Conversation.Vice-chancellor’s fellow, La Trobe UniversitySeptember 27, 2021 “……………….. Australian defence spending likely to rise

What is absolutely certain in all of this is that an Indo-Pacific security environment will now become more, not less, contentious.

SIPRI notes that in 2020, military spending in Asia totalled $US528 billion (A$725 billion), 62% of which was attributable to China and India.

IISS singled out Japan and Australia, in particular, as countries that were increasing defence spending to take account of China. Tokyo, for example, is budgeting for record spending of $US50 billion (A$68 billion) for 2022-23.

Australia’s defence spending stands a tick over 2% of GDP in 2021-22 at A$44.6 billion, with plans for further increases in the forward estimates.

However, those projections will now have to be re-worked given the commitments that have been made under AUKUS.

Neglected in the flush of enthusiasm that accompanied the AUKUS announcement is the likely cost of Australia’s new defence spending under a “China containment policy”. It is hard to see these commitments being realised without significant increases in defence allocations to 3-4% of GDP.

This comes at a time when budgets will already be stretched due to relief spending as a consequence of the pandemic.

In addition to existing weapons acquisitions, Canberra has indicated it will ramp up its purchases of longer-range weapons. This includes Tomahawk cruise missiles for its warships and anti-ship missiles for its fighter aircraft.

At the same time, it will work with the US under the AUKUS arrangement to develop hypersonic missiles that would test even the most sophisticated defence systems…………… 

The price tag for this in terms of equipment and likely continuing economic fallout for Australian exporters will not come cheap. …………..

September 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Nuclear-Sub Shakeup Hits Shipbuilding Supply Chain

Australia’s Nuclear-Sub Shakeup Hits Shipbuilding Supply Chain,  The Maritim Executive  By Charlie Turner] 27 Sept 21,

The abrupt announcement by the Australian government that it was scrapping its plans to build a fleet of diesel-electric submarines in favor of nuclear-powered boats will have a ripple effect throughout the defense industry. The sunk cost of five years’ work and $1.7 billion has inflicted greater damage on domestic relations than on bilateral relations with the French government—it has broken the trust between defense leaders and Australian industry………

Industry bodies and lobby groups in Team Defence Australia, the Industry Capability Network and the Australian Industry & Defence Network have spent the past five years encouraging companies to invest time and resources to expand or set up a capability to service the submarine program. There have been multiple government-supported trips to Europe inviting Australian companies, at their own expense, to interact within the supply chain to develop relationships and encourage the coveted ‘knowledge sharing’ between French and Australian companies necessary to find success in such a technology leap. Follow-on trips and other efforts have been undertaken in the development of relationships and strategies centered around the program.

Those investments are a sunk cost for the Australian businesses that provide the critical operational services to support Australia’s defense capability. 

Crucially, a significant number of Australian companies investing in these initiatives were small and medium enterprises that wouldn’t hold contracts directly with the defense organization but rather with the large prime contractors. They have no claim for losses—and it’s unlikely that the multinational primes will miss out on any penalty clauses contained in their contracts’ cancellation terms.

The repercussions of these actions will have long-lasting implications for the new program, in whatever form it takes. Initial indications are for a reduction in Australian industry content by 30 percent, down to 40 percent of the total build of the new submarines from the 60 percent under Naval Group. The absence of a commitment to 12 submarines under the AUKUS pact (the statement that there will be ‘at least eight’ is suitably vague) further reduces the market by another 30 percent.

With the Attack-class submarine program failing to survive a change in government leadership, how much confidence can industry maintain for investment when the new program has now apparently bypassed the strategic and political discussions about the requirement for nuclear-powered vessels?

Notably, the current and previous two prime ministers have had different preferred submarine suppliers despite being from the same political party. In the context of a change in government, the opposing major political parties have previously maintained a resolute opposition to any nuclear energy in Australia, and while Labor says it supports the new plan (with conditions), it will potentially be put in jeopardy at each federal election.

The AUKUS announcement gave an 18-month period for the examination of requirements for nuclear stewardship………..

 Public discussion on the practical and political ramifications of a nuclear-propulsion solution within the country, our region and globally is the next step. Finally, continued bipartisan support for the program, in its latest form, will be required to avoid another calamity following an election or leadership spill.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The massive subsidy to nuclear submarines must not be used to justify subsidy to nuclear power

the massive public subsidy of this project must not be used to justify the much greater risks of nuclear power.

Australia is blessed with a bounty of sun and wind, and is well on the way to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030, even without government help. No matter which way you look at it, nuclear power in Australia makes no sense at all.

Yes, Australia is buying a fleet of nuclear submarines. But nuclear-powered electricity must not come next
Ian Lowe
, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith UniversitySeptember 20, 2021   The federal government on Thursday announced a landmark defence pact with the United States and United Kingdom that involves this nation acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. The question of nuclear submarines in Australia has been bubbling along for some time – and with it, whether we should also develop a nuclear energy sector.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted the defence deal did not mean Australia would look to develop a civil nuclear capability.

But there is strong support within Coalition ranks for a homegrown nuclear power industry. And the Minerals Council of Australia on Thursday quickly pointed out the “opportunity” the submarine announcement created for expanding nuclear technology in Australia.

The submarine announcement is sure to trigger a new round of debate on whether nuclear energy is right for Australia. But let’s be clear: the technology makes no sense for Australia, economically or politically, and would not be a timely response to climate change.

A twin discussion

The topics of nuclear submarines and nuclear energy are often discussed in tandem.

The technology is similar: the energy source for a nuclear submarine is basically a miniature version of that for a power station. And a similar supply chain is needed for mining and processing uranium, fuelling the reactor and managing waste. That also means both technologies require similar skills and regulatory frameworks.

The Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable on Thursday responded to the submarine announcement, pointing out the apparent synergies with nuclear power:

This is an incredible opportunity for Australia’s economy – not only will we develop the skills and infrastructure to support this naval technology, but it connects us to the growing global nuclear power industry and its supply chains.

Now that Australia is acquiring nuclear submarines which use small reactors, there is no reason why Australia should not be considering [small modular reactors] for civilian use.

A former commander of Australia’s submarine force, Denis Mole, in April also questioned why Australia doesn’t have a larger and more diverse nuclear industry.

Mole argued that of the top 20 world economies, all have nuclear power except Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia. And as nations commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 “it’s noteworthy that no major economy intends doing so without nuclear power in the mix”, he said.

And in February this year, Lindsay Hughes, a senior analyst in the Indo-Pacific program of research organisation Future Directions International, also suggested Australia should develop a nuclear power sector to support a nuclear submarine fleet.

Hughes argued a nuclear power sector would provide skills that could be transferred into the military domain, including nuclear-powered submarines, saying:

A nuclear power sector would demand university graduates with skills in engineering, physics and mathematics, the same skills and skill levels that the US Navy requires to operate its nuclear submarines. Australian graduates with similar skills could be employed on Australian nuclear-powered submarines.

Hughes concluded a nuclear power sector “could potentially provide much of the foundational skills required to maintain and operate a nuclear-power submarine fleet”.

 That really is the military tail wagging the electricity industry dog.

Nuclear power is not the logical next step

Even if there’s agreement Australia needs nuclear submarines patrolling the South China Sea, there is no logical jump for a nuclear power sector to support that activity.

In an opinion piece in March this year, former defence minister Christopher Pyne wrote that without nuclear energy, Australia could not support nuclear submarines – but establishing the former would be difficult. He went on:

Australia does not have a nuclear industry. One cannot be created overnight. Even if there was the political will to create one, which there isn’t, what political party is going to waste its political capital on creating a legislative framework for a nuclear industry that can sustain nuclear submarines, that has zero chance of passing any Upper House in any jurisdiction in Australia.

A nuclear industry in Australia would need a solution for the safe storage and disposal of high-level radioactive waste – this appears unlikely, given the public opposition to establishing a site to dispose of even low-level nuclear waste in Australia.

And research suggests there would be little community support for nuclear power – especially following the Fukushima disaster – let alone a community willing to host a reactor.

The decision to build nuclear submarines raises a new set of issues about uranium processing, fuel fabrication and waste management. The Morrison government needs to tell the community how these will be managed.

What’s more, while nuclear power may have once been cheaper than wind or solar, the economics have since changed dramatically.

Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build and the economics of nuclear power are getting steadily worse. By contrast, renewables continue to come down in price.

Over the past 20 years, new nuclear reactors have struggled to establish a business case in any OECD country, with the potential exception of South Korea. The world has obviously made its decision on nuclear: last year 192 gigawtts of renewables came on line, compared with a net 3 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The future is renewables

Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper noted the federal government had ruled out nuclear propulsion for submarines. Now the federal government will outlay huge amounts of money establishing the framework for the technology.

However, the massive public subsidy of this project must not be used to justify the much greater risks of nuclear power.

Australia is blessed with a bounty of sun and wind, and is well on the way to achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030, even without government help. No matter which way you look at it, nuclear power in Australia makes no sense at all.

September 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, technology | Leave a comment

USA has conned Australia into paying for its super-costly nuclear submarine project

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

Has PM put Australia on the hook to finance struggling UK, US submarine projects? Michael West Media, By Marcus Reubenstein| September 23, 2021,

“Almost comical”. Experts lambast Scott Morrison’s “crazy” AUKUS deal to buy nuclear submarine tech from parlous UK and US programs. Marcus Reubenstein finds a real prospect Australia will be used to “underwrite” the foundering foreign submarine industry.

Twenty-five years of ongoing maintenance delays for nuclear submarines, chronic shortage of both parts and skilled workers, under capacity at shipyards, and attack class submarines missing from deployments for up to nine months. These sound like potential problems for Australia’s future nuclear submarine fleet but they are actual problems right now confronting the US Navy and its fleet of 70 submarines.

The US is at the cutting edge of nuclear propulsion. It has the largest and most sophisticated submarine fleet in the world, its first nuclear submarine was commissioned 67 years ago, and the US has literally decommissioned twice as many nuclear subs as Australia is planning to buy. 

If the US cannot manage to keep its fleet in the water, how can the Morrison government commit up to $100 billion of taxpayer money to secure nuclear submarines and guarantee they will be always operational and ready for deployment?

Professor Hugh White, ANU Professor of Strategic Studies, former Deputy Secretary of Defence and an eminent figure in strategic policy, wrote in The Saturday Paper, “The old plan was to build a conventionally powered version of a nuclear-powered French submarine. It was crazy.”

“The new plan—to buy a nuclear-powered submarine instead—is worse”. 

Says White, “There is a reason why only six countries, all of them nuclear-armed, operate nuclear powered subs.”

The sales pitch is underway 

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

The ripples of the announcement, however, reached British shores in double-quick time. Just two days after the AUKUS alliance UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallis announced a $320 million (£170m) grant to be shared between BAE Systems and Rolls Royce to develop technology for Britain’s next generation submarines. 

According to Department of Finance figures, In the past twelve months BAE Systems has collected $1.88 billion from Australian taxpayers. The Astute class submarine, touted as one of the two options Australia is considering, is manufactured by BAE Systems. 

US Naval analyst, and Forbes Defense columnist, Craig Hooper predicts AUKUS could give the US Navy a big shot in the arm as well. He says a deal with Australia could effectively underwrite major improvements to the US Navy’s outdated submarine maintenance facilities by supporting “America’s decade-long, $US25 billion ($34.6 billion) effort to refit the U.S. Navy’s four aging public shipyards. With yard repair costs already high, America would go to great lengths to welcome any additional bidders for shipyard capability improvements.”

US subs in dry dock In a report published six months ago, the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found: “The Navy’s four shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on its submarines (all of which are nuclear-powered).” ………. Should Australia go down the nuclear sub path what choice will it have other than to outsource the fleet’s maintenance?   …..

Her Majesty’s sub optimal fleet

Britain, touted as the alternative nuclear submarine supplier to Australia, has problems of its own. The Royal Navy operates ten submarines, only four of them were designed and commissioned this century. 

Like their American nuclear counterparts there are systemic problems keeping these subs in service……

That report also indicated significant delays to the BAE Systems built Astute hunter-killer submarines, the same class of nuclear submarine being touted for Australian as part of the AUKUS deal……….

September 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Maritime and electrical trades unions stand against nuclear submarines

Maritime and electrical trades unions stand against nuclear submarines Kerry SmithSeptember 21, 2021Issue 1320Australia   On September 21, International Day of Peace, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said it opposed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reckless commitment to develop nuclear-powered submarines as part of a military alliance with the United States and Britain.

At a time when Morrison should have been pursuing vaccination supplies and providing maximum support to our health system and millions of people in lockdown, he has been pursuing secret military deals”, the MUA said.

“The deal will continue to escalate unnecessary conflict with China. Workers have already been impacted, with seafarers stranded on coal ships and some trades shut down.”

The MUA said $90 billion had been “wasted with the previous submarine contract”, scrapped just five years after it was signed. Nuclear submarines will cost much more.

“Only six countries in the world have nuclear submarines, and they all have nuclear power stations”, the MUA said, adding: “Advocates for nuclear power and nuclear weapons have been emboldened. The submarines will use highly enriched uranium ideal for nuclear weapons.”

The government has repeatedly tried to set up nuclear waste dumps on First Nations people’s land and the decision will intensify that pressure.

Instead, the union is calling for the billions to be redirected to: building a strategic shipping fleet in Adelaide that could operate in cabotage and international trades; building renewable energy and offshore wind turbines to ensure we prevent global heating from exceeding 1.5°C; raising JobSeeker payments to well above poverty levels; pay rises for health workers and investment in public health systems; pay rises for teachers and investment in public schools to make them COVID-19 safe; and investment in firefighting capacity to be ready for the next bushfire season.

Workers have no interest in war with China or any other country”, the MUA said, adding that it stands in “solidarity with workers in all countries in opposing war and wasteful environmentally harmful military spending”.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is also opposed to the nuclear submarine deal, saying on September 16 that it would expose Australia to greater danger on multiple fronts.

ETU National Assistant Secretary Michael Wright said: “This decision represents a betrayal of responsibility to Australia’s non-nuclear policy and a betrayal of two generations of highly-skilled, secure, well-paying Australian shipbuilding jobs.”

Further, Wright said, nuclear technology is inherently dangerous: “Has Morrison given any thought to where the spent fuel rods from these nuclear submarines will be stored? Australians have a right to know the answers to these important questions before the prime minister makes such dangerous decisions on our behalf.”

September 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, opposition to nuclear, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment