Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s Ben Heard and the failed pro nuclear push at Bonn Climate talks

Above: Ben Heard at Bonn, 16 November

Ben Heard and the pro nuclear lobby group “Generation Atomic” were not very successful at the Bonn climate talks. A member of the group ‘marraskuu’ explains:

“we ran around Bonn, trying to secure a permission for a side event that our group would like to organize on Monday, when the UNEP [ United Nations Environment Programme ] Sustainable innovations forum, from which the nuclear industry was kicked out from, starts. They eventually ended up denying us the permission.
The evening was spent in one of the weirdest way I have ever spent an evening: By sticking up stickers on Bananas”

So – the nuclear lobby at the climate talks was reduced to pushing one of their most dishonest and silliest propaganda spins – the “banana argument”.  Because our bodies contain a small amount of (mildly) radioactive Potassium 40 –  and because there’s potassium 40 in bananas – then we are told not to worry about the nuclear fission produced highly radioactive ions like Cesium , Strontium, Iodine,

BUT – IN REALITY :  When you eat a banana, your body’s level of Potassium-40 doesn’t increase. You just get rid of some excess Potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.

 

 

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November 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear propagandist Michael Shellenberger hated ABC interview, loved shock jock Alan Jones

6 Nov 17           The pro nuclear Twittersphere was alive with angry comments about the ABC’s interview with nuclear propagandist Michael Shellenberger.

I missed that interview, but apparently the ABC interviewer asked some hard questions.

Shellenberger commented: “fighting to survive a brutal interview by a tough young reporter in Oz On ABC (the Aussie BBC)”

Australia’s own nuclear propagandist, Ben Heard,  commented:  “Shabby interview. Host evidently unfamiliar with topic”

However, those pro nuclear spinners were happy with shock jock Alan Jones on 2GB Alan Jones Breakfast Show.  Jones said:

“Michael has turned on wind and solar with a passion: he’s now advocating for an all-atomic energy future, simply because the latter provides reliable power, whereas the former are a childish nonsense…..

the Finkel review totally ignored nuclear power as an option and pushed harder for more and more renewable energy. So Victoria’s looking at 25% renewables by 2025, South Australia 50%, the ACT 100%, Queensland 50%……

one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers has said the renewable energy experiment with wind and solar has failed. Michael Shellenberger is a former renewables advocate and adviser to Barack Obama when he was President. [ed. not true. Shellenberger sent an unsolicited  submission to President Obama]  He is now global champion for nuclear energy, which he said was the only option to replace coal and gas on a global scale. ……”

Shellenberger  said:

every major study for the last 40 years finds that nuclear power is the safest way to make reliable electricity. You don’t have the risks that come with coal and fossil fuels, both in terms of mine collapses and air pollution, and the accidents themselves that everyone worries so much about hardly have any impact on people’s lives…

Wind and solar – They’re the worst. Really, all renewables are. The reason is easy to understand, in the sense that the fuels are very dilute, they’re very diffuse, and so you have to cover a huge amount of land with wind and solar……. solar produces huge quantities of toxic waste…… They produce two to three hundred times more toxic waste than nuclear plants, which are the only way of producing electricity that contain all of their potentially harmful waste. Of course it’s been contained so well that nobody has ever been harmed by the radiation from nuclear power waste, ever……

The other problem is that you just end up getting too much wind energy when you don’t need it, like the middle of the night. Solar and wind, it’s like they’re almost set up to destroy cheap, clean, reliable energy.

What happened was that there was a smaller group of anti-human so-called environmentalists that opposed nuclear precisely because it allowed for so much cheap and abundant power, and they thought, “Well, if we’re going to stop the human cancer, we have to cut off its energy supplies.” …..

You’ve got some really crazy anti-nuclear people down there…..

Alan Jones: “I’ll tell you something, when you arrive in this country, Michael we’ll have you on again. We can’t hear enough of you. It’s time we had a good healthy dose of common sense”

November 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The costs -financial, environmental, human, – of plutonium-fuelled space exploration

Australia’s international space agency hype https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/australias-international-space-agency-hype,10876  s the current hype about space travel justified, and what of the human and environmental cost? Noel Wauchope reports.

ENTHUSIASM for space travel has been mounting since Australia hosted the recent International Astronautical Congress (IAC), held in Adelaide in September.

Then there was the announcement that Australia is getting a space agency!

We are informed by space scientist Dr Megan Clarke:

“ … more than 3000 of the world’s top space experts wildly cheered [and] all aspects of Australian society were united on the need for a national agency.” 

In November, the very brilliant and appealing space travel and nuclear power enthusiast, Professor Brian Cox is to tour Australia! Champion astronaut Scott Kelly has just published his exciting bookEndurance: a Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.

Dare anyone throw cold water on all this joy?

Intriguingly, the Australian Government, while proudly hyping up this initiative, has not yet come up with a title for the new agency. However, someone else has and they have set up an elegant and professional-looking website for it: Australian Research and Space Exploration (ARSE).

Let’s start with that most important consideration — money Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 1 Comment

UN rejects nuclear industry participating in clean energy forum: Ben Heard spits the dummy

THE AUSTRALIAN, 31 Oct 17 The UN has blocked the nuclear industry from participating in an international forum on clean energy….

The London-based World Nuclear Association was originally accepted by the organisers of next month’s Sustainable Innovation Forum as a £40,000 ($68,338) gold sponsor, but the deal was rescinded a week later after intervention by the UN environment program.

The organisers then offered a watered-down sponsorship that would include no branding presence, but that deal was also vetoed by UNEP………

Next month’s forum takes place on the sidelines of the UN’s COP 23 climate change conference, where government representatives from around the world will meet to discuss progress towards meeting international emission-reduction targets.

The Sustainable Innovation Forum will be hosted in the purpose-built Climate Action Dome, which itself will be powered by energy generated using food waste from the conference.

Ben Heard, an energy researcher [ ed. more correctly a nuclear promoter] with the University of Adelaide and an advocate for the climate benefits of nuclear energy, described the UN’s intervention as “frightening” and an example of “outright prejudice”. “This family of technologies has been the principal source of carbon-free energy for the last four decades. Along with hydro-electricity, they have been the two big hitters that have actually delivered, and you’re running a climate change conference and you won’t let the representatives of that industry through the door,” he said.

“For me it’s gobsmacking to see this. I’m an advocate for this technology on environmental grounds but it struggles, and part of the reason is time after time it faces this kind of institutional bias which means no-one can even have a conversation about it.”

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Top spinner Michael SHILLenberger to spread pro nuclear falsehoods in Australia

The nuclear power industry is having one of its worst ever years. Environmental Progress is warning about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and other pro-nuclear lobbyists have noted that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

Is there a future for ‘pro-nuclear environmentalism’? Jim Green, 30 Oct 2017, http://reneweconomy.com.au/is-there-a-future-for-pro-nuclear-environmentalism-94038/

Michael Shellenberger is visiting Australia this week. He has been a prominent environmentalist (of sorts) since he co-authored the 2004 essay, The Death of Environmentalism. These days, as the President of the California-based ‘Environmental Progress’ lobby group, he is stridently pro-nuclear, hostile towards renewable energy and hostile towards the environment movement.

Shellenberger is visiting to speak at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne. His visit was promoted by Graham Lloyd in The Australian in September. Shellenberger is “one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers” according to The Australian, and if the newspaper is any guide he is here to promote his message that wind and solar have failed, that they are doubling the cost of electricity, and that “all existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”

Trawling through Environmental Progress literature, one of their recurring themes is the falsehood that “every time nuclear plants close they are replaced almost entirely by fossil fuels”. South Korea, for example, plans to reduce reliance on coal and nuclear under recently-elected President Moon Jae-in, and to boost reliance on gas and renewables. But Shellenberger and Environmental Progress ignore those plans and concoct their own scare-story in which coal and gas replace nuclear power, electricity prices soar, thousands die from increased air pollution, and greenhouse emissions increase.

Fake scientists and radiation quackery

Environmental Progress’ UK director John Lindberg is described as an “expert on radiation” on the lobby group’s website. In fact, he has no scientific qualifications. Likewise, a South Korean article falsely claims that Shellenberger is a scientist and that article is reposted, without correction, on the Environmental Progress website.

Shellenberger says that at a recent talk in Berlin: “Many Germans simply could not believe how few people died and will die from the Chernobyl accident (under 200) and that nobody died or will die from the meltdowns at Fukushima. How could it be that everything we were told is not only wrong, but often the opposite of the truth?”

There’s a simple reason that Germans didn’t believe Shellenberger’s claims about Chernobyl and Fukushima ‒ they are false. Shellenberger claims that “under 200” people have died and will die from the Chernobyl disaster, but in fact the lowest of the estimates of the Chernobyl cancer death toll is the World Health Organization’s estimate of “up to 9,000 excess cancer deaths” in the most contaminated parts of the former Soviet Union. And of course there are higher estimates for the death toll across Europe.

Shellenberger claims that the Fukushima meltdowns “killed precisely no one” and that “nobody died or will die from the meltdowns at Fukushima”. An Environmental Progress report has this to say about Fukushima: “[T]he science is unequivocal: nobody has gotten sick much less died from the radiation that escaped from three meltdowns followed by three hydrogen gas explosions. And there will be no increase in cancer rates.”

In support of those assertions, Environmental Progress cites a World Health Organization report that directly contradicts the lobby group’s claims. The WHO report concluded that for people in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated increased risk for all solid cancers will be around 4% in females exposed as infants; a 6% increased risk of breast cancer for females exposed as infants; a 7% increased risk of leukaemia for males exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer among females exposed as infants, an increased risk of up to 70% (from a 0.75% lifetime risk up to 1.25%).

 

Applying a linear-no threshold (LNT) risk factor to the estimated collective radiation dose from Fukushima fallout gives an estimated long-term cancer death toll of around 5,000 people. Nuclear lobbyists are quick to point out that LNT may overestimate risks from low dose and low dose-rate exposure ‒ but LNT may also underestimate the risks according to expert bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

Attacking environment groups Continue reading

October 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 2 Comments

Sick-making propaganda spin, as ANSTO pays rural South Australians to visit Lucas Heights nuclear reactor

ANSTO Media Release, 23 Oct 17Hawker and Quorn locals visit ANSTO to find out more about the types of jobs involved in managing radioactive waste,  …….“One of the great things I saw was a lot of school children going through the site and being taught about nuclear medicine and science. It was a real eye opener,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Our group will capture what we have learned about what goes on at ANSTO, and feed that into our development plans.

“What I saw was that my group had the opportunity to talk to people who knew what they were talking about, listen and ask questions, and then walk away happy.

“They spoke to the experts about the process and how they manage and look after the site safety, and I am sure we could do something similar up at Wallerberdina Station.

“With the proper training, we could do the types of jobs they do here. There is a great opportunity to contribute.”

October 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

ANSTO calls High Level Nuclear Waste – “Intermediate Level” – fooling the public

Steve Dale Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/  21 Oct 17 Lest we forget. The ore we dig up from Roxby has a radioactivity of about 80 Becquerels per gram. The vitrified waste we received back from France has a radioactivity over one Billion Becquerels per gram (one GigaBq/gr). France considers this High Level Waste – but our political system has allowed this to be defined as “Intermediate” – incompetence? corrupt? I will let you decide. (image from http://inventaire.andra.fr/…/2006_summar…/files/docs/all.pdf)

October 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

“The Advertiser’s” nuclear advertising article drew strong responses

Jim Green, 18 Oct 17 Dean Jaensch makes two comments about nuclear power ‒ both of them false (‘Nuclear power could be the solution for Australia’s energry crisis‘, The Advertiser, yesterday). He claims that 19 of the G20 utilise nuclear energy in their power production. But in fact, Indonesia Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have no reactors.

And in most of the G20 countries that operate reactors, nuclear power is either negligible or in a world of trouble. In Japan, for example, less than one-tenth of the pre-Fukushima reactor fleet is operating. Estimated clean-up and compensation costs for the 2011 Fukushima disaster have doubled and doubled again and now stand at $245 billion.

Could the state economy cope with a $245 billion hit if Fukushima happened in SA? Of course not.
Jaensch’s claim that nuclear power “emits absolutely no carbon” is also false as a cursory review of the relevant literature demonstrates.

Robyn Wood, 19 Oct 17  Regarding nuclear power, Dean Jaensch is very mistaken when he claims that nuclear power emits no carbon (Advertiser 17/10/17).  He forgets to include the fossil fuel burned during uranium mining, transport of uranium by truck, train or sea, plus the construction of a waste facility along with associated transport of waste.

He also forgets that last year’s nuclear Royal Commission found that nuclear power is currently uneconomic compared to other sources of power.  Costs for the construction of new nuclear power plants around the world are skyrocketing while the costs of renewables are rapidly falling.  If our government is wise enough to also invest in constructing pumped hydro dams which act as energy storage, then renewable energy can be stabilised to provide continuous electricity for the benefit of all Australians.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Ben Heard misinforms the Saudi Arabians on radiation from spent nuclear fuels

Nuclear energy is green, it’s safe, Heard asserts, Saudi Gazette

This guy should know better than this – “There is a hazard, particularly freshly used fuel is hazardous for the first 5 years and then it comes down very fast and is not so dangerous any more, but we manage it very effectively. ”

Compare this with what Hedin says “Approximately one year after the fuel has been discharged from the reactor, the dose rate is around 1,000,000 mSv/h. This means that a lethal dose, about 5,000 mSv, is received in about 20 seconds. The dose is dominated completely by the contribution from gamma rays. The radiation declines with time, but the dose rate after 40 years, when the spent fuel is to be emplaced in the deep repository, is still as high as 65,000 mSv/h.” From Allan Hedin 1997, “Spent Nuclear Fuel – How Dangerous is it”

October 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia’s Ben Heard – fake environmentalist and pro nuclear shill

Jim Green  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052/– 9 October 17 Ben Heard is a fake environmentalist ‒ Australia’s version of Patrick Moore. Heard’s last gig was for the COAL MINING funded Minerals Council of Australia!
Before that, he took money from General Atomics ‒ which is up to its neck in drone warfare. And he’s possibly the first and hopefully the last person to ask for speaking fees from small, unfunded community groups.
Corporations can donate to Heard’s fake environment group and he “will respect the company’s right to privacy if desired”. Since he openly takes money from coal miners and murderous military corporations, I shudder to think who he’ll accept secret donations from.
This is what the stridently pro-nuclear South Australian Royal Commission said about Heard’s Gen 4 nuclear plans: “[A]dvanced fast reactors and other innovative reactor designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future. The development of such a first-of-a-kind project in South Australia would have high commercial and technical risk. Although prototype and demonstration reactors are operating, there is no licensed, commercially proven design. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment.”
Heard got a $55,000 government grant to come up with his lunatic Gen 4 proposal and, needless to say, he refused to repay one cent of the money.
#followthemoney
http://www.archive.foe.org.au/…/oz/ben-heard-decarbonisesa
 

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Professor Brian Cox – subtle spinner for nuclear power, will tour Australia in November

Brian Cox is  a very personable and knowledgeable TV star and particle physics expert. He is also a promoter of the nuclear industry. He is a big fan of plutonium -powered space travel.

Currently, Cox is in Cumbria, UK, addressing schoolchildren groups, and revving up enthusiasm for science and technology. All good, yes. He enthuses about the opportunity for top jobs in high tech in Cumbria.  Good? Yes, but – where are these future jobs? Well – in the nuclear industry, which is desperately trying to get a new nuclear power station built.

Whitehaven News 29th Sept 2017, Television star Professor Brian Cox says Cumbria has a world-leading industry which warrants talent – but there’s a shortage of scientists and engineers. But he hopes to change that by helping to bring the prestigious Infinity Festival to the area and inspiring hundreds of teenagers to follow their dreams. Professor Cox was the star speaker at today’s festival which was held at West Lakes Academy in Egremont. More than 200 schoolchildren, aged 13 and 14, attended the event from schools across the whole of the county.  http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/Professor-Brian-Cox-visits-Egremont-and-declares-Cumbria-is-a-world-leading-high-tech-industry-941aa057-9b77-46a5-8eac-6e92f0341783-ds

Professor Brian Cox welcomes Cumbria’s nuclear history and future http://www.itv.com/news/border/update/2014-05-30/professor-brian-cox-welcomes-cumbrias-nuclear-history-and-future/

The scientist, Professor Brian Cox, has told guests at the opening of a new exhibition in Whitehaven that nuclear power should be an important source of energy in the UK.

Famous scientist argues for ‘stable’ forms of energy, The famous scientist Professor Brian Cox has told guests at the opening of a new exhibition in Whitehaven that nuclear power should be an important source of energy in the UK.

He argues that education is important for accepting nuclear energy: http://www.itv.com/news/border/story/2014-05-30/professor-brian-cox-opens-beacon-museum/

October 2, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Nuclear connections in Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering

Dan Monceaux, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia shared a link. September 29 

There are quite a few Fellows of ATSE with direct associations with uranium mining or nuclear fuel cycle projects. They include:

– Paul Heithersay (Olympic Dam task force, SA Gov)
– Malcolm Kinnaird (Olympic Dam task force, SA Gov)
– Ian Gould (Rio Tinto/Toro Energy)
– Vanessa Guthrie (Toro Energy)
– Hugh Morgan (WMC/Olympic Dam)
– David Klingberg (Nat. Radioactive Waste project)
– Marius Kloppers (BHP during ODX)
– Adi Paterson (ANSTO)
– Arvi Parbo (WMC/Olympic Dam)
– Erica Smyth (Toro Energy)
– Ziggy Switkowski (author of UMPNER Review circa 2006)

The ATSE is the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. There are over 800 Fellows of the ATSE (FTSE).[1] They include the following people:

October 2, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Six international academics refute the attack on renewable energy by Ben Heard and others

Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’ AUTHORS W. Browna,(a) , T. Bischof-Niemz (b)  , K. Blok(c) , C. Breyerc(d) , H. Lund (e) , B.V. Mathiesen (f  )  (Their  university positions are listed at the end of this post) September 2017

Abstract A recent article ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems [by Ben Heard, Barry Brook, Tom Wigley and Corey Bradshaw] claims that many studies of 100% renewable electricity systems do not demonstrate sufficient technical feasibility, according to the authors’ criteria.

Here we analyse the authors’ methodology and find it problematic. The feasibility criteria chosen by the authors are important, but are also easily addressed at low cost, while not affecting the main conclusions of the reviewed studies and certainly not affecting their technical feasibility.

A more thorough review reveals that all of the issues have already been addressed in the engineering and modelling literature. Nuclear power, as advocated by some of the authors, faces other, genuine feasibility problems, such as the finiteness of uranium resources and a reliance on unproven technologies in the medium- to long-term. Energy systems based on renewables, on the other hand, are not only feasible, but already economically viable and getting cheaper every day.

Contents Continue reading

September 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby bringing top USA nuclear spruiker Michael Shellenberger to Australia

‘Michael Shellenberger  will visit Australia in Nov­ember to promote a rethink on nuclear at a minerals industry conference.

A radioactive wolf in green clothing: Dissecting the latest pro-nuclear spin https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/a-radioactive-wolf-in-green-clothing-dissecting-the-latest-pro-nuclear-spin,10735

 Noel Wauchope Michael Shellenberger is a nuclear salesman posing as a new generation environmentalist with unsubstantiated energy “solutions”, writes Noel Wauchope.

LAST WEEK, The Australian excelled itself in uncritically regurgitating nuclear lobby propaganda in the article‘Nuclear the “only option” to replace coal and gas: Michael Shellenberger’. 

To start with, they describe Shellenberger as ‘one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers‘. Well, that is sort of, a bit, right. Shellenberger is well known as the founder in 2003, with Ted Nordhaus, of The Breakthrough Institute — a nuclear front group dedicated to promoting “new generation” nuclear reactors. He is not a new generation environmentalist, as his focus is solely on the nuclear industry.

In the same opening paragraph, Shellenberger is described as ‘a former renewables advocate to Barack Obama‘. Well, Shellenberger’s advocacy consisted of lobbying Obama to promote not renewables but nuclear power. He is described as ‘now a global champion for nuclear energy’, as if he had only recently become a convert from renewables.

The Australian goes on to quote Shellenberger’s statements against renewable energy, uncritically, despite the fact that he provides no evidence for them:

“[Wind and solar] are doubling the cost of electricity and they have big environmental impacts. All existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”

And:

“[Opposition to nuclear] is like a superstitious religious belief.”

Shellenberger was a one of Time Magazine’s ’30 Heroes of the Environment’ in 2008. True. However, he was chosen and discussed in Time by Bryan Walsh, a nuclear proponent and a member of The Breakthrough Institute. That choice was strongly disputed by genuine leading environmentalists Bill McKibben and Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. 

Having thus established Shellenberger’s very shaky credentials as an environmentalist, The Australian gets to the gist of the story:

‘Michael Shellenberger  will visit Australia in Nov­ember to promote a rethink on nuclear at a minerals industry conference.’

We are told that Germany’s renewable energy transition is not successful and that Shellenberger believes better education about nuclear power is needed as well as ‘a leap forward in scientific literacy about radiation’.

He says:

“The reality is the death toll from Chernobyl in 1986, after 20 years, is less than 200 people.”

As we have come to expect from The Australian and from Michael Shellenberger, no references are given to back up these statements.

Also unsurprisingly, The Australian quotes Shellenberger’s conclusion without comment:

“Nuclear is the only technology that can lift everyone out of poverty and reverse human ­impact.”

As often happens, this article is followed by numerous positive comments, often glowing with praise, if somewhat lacking in information or insight. There were no negative comments. But then, only registered readers of The Australian are allowed to make comments. It is tiring but necessary to refute bald claims made by very manipulative nuclear spruikers.

Where to start?

Here are some links to thoughtful articles which address claims made in this article:

  • The cost or electricity from renewables?

Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths about costs‘, by Mark Diesendorf, Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

  • Death toll from Chernobyl accident?

‘Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll’, by Dr Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and Editor of the Nuclear Monitor.

  • Nuclear lifting the world out of poverty?  

‘Nuclear Power Cost’, from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

John Quiggan demolishes foolish Minerals Council of Australia’s nuclear spin

The Minerals Council of Australia pushing zombie ideas, September 4th, 2017, John Quiggin, http://johnquiggin.com/2017/09/04/the-minerals-council-of-australia-pushing-zombie-ideas/

Fighting zombies is a tiresome business. Even when you think you’ve finally killed them, they bounce back as often as not. But it has to be done, and there are some benefits. When you see a supposedly serious person or organization pushing zombie ideas, it’s an indication that nothing they put out should be presumed to be serious.

There can be few zombies more thoroughly undead than nuclear power in general, except for the idea that nuclear power is a sensible option for Australia. The strongly pro-nuclear SA Royal Commission demolished this zombie so thoroughly that it should have taken a decade at least to regenerate.

But here’s the Minerals Council of Australia, which has taken a break from promoting coal to push the idea thatAustralia needs a nuclear power industry and that the biggest obstacle is a legal prohibition imposed in 1998. The supporting “analysis” is riddled with absurdities, some of which have already been pointed out. I’ll give my own (incomplete) list over the fold

Most obviously, there’s the statement that 58 nuclear reactors are currently under construction. As anyone who’s been paying attention could tell them, that number was 66 not long ago. The decline reflects the abandonment of half-built projects like the VC Summer plant in North Carolina and the fact that some long overdue projects like Watts Bar, started back in 1973, have been completed, while new starts have slowed to a crawl.

That’s only going to accelerate. China currently has 23 plants under construction, but they haven’t approved a new one in eighteen months. Other countries with projects under construction, but no recent approvals include the US and France. Unless something changes, the completion of current projects will cut the number under construction in half within a few years.

Then there’s the claim that nuclear power is affordable. There’s no reference to the dismal record of the existing industry. Instead, the MCA is relying on vaporware

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are close to commercialisation in the US. A Nu-scale 50MWe SMR, for example, is projected to cost around US$250 million.10 Three of these would cost and produce around the same amount of power as the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere – and it would be reliable, synchronous, on-demand power

The reality is that the NuScale SMR doesn’t exist even as a prototype. Any estimate of the costs of such a reactor is purely speculative. The SA Royal Commission looked hard at SMRs and concluded they weren’t a viable option now or in the foreseeable future.

Showing patent bad faith, the MCA quotes the Royal Commission’s claims about the potential for a nuclear waste dump (an idea that has been abandoned) but ignores the more significant finding that nuclear power, including SMRs is hopelessly uneconomic for Australia.

Even more startling is the suggestion that we should follow the example of Canada which supposedly has a thriving nuclear industry. The reality is that nuclear power in Canada has been a failure, with massive cost overruns and frequent breakdowns. After spending at least a billion in subsidies, the Canadian government sold its nuclear energy business for a mere $15 million in 2011. It’s highly unlikely that Canada will ever build another nuclear plant.

Then there’s a reference to some real vaporware, notably including Transatomic a startup backed by Peter Theil. Google reveals that Transatomic had to back away from its inflated claims by a factor of more than 30. An honest mistake, apparently, but not promising as a basis for Australian energy policy.

Regardless of whether the prohibition on nuclear energy is lifted, it’s not going to happen in Australia, or most other countries. The real lesson from this episode is that any analysis coming out of the MCA should be treated with extreme scepticism. In particular, the next time an MCA spokesperson pops up to say that we need coal-fired power indefinitely into the future, remember their similar, and patently false, claims about nuclear power.

September 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment