Friday, 23 March 2007

Switkowski talks up nuclear benefits

"... there are already 31 countries that are nuclear powered. The industry is 50-years-old. It's had one serious accident, but in the last couple of decades it has been a very high-performing, cost-effective, and very clean from an environmental point of view.

So the presumption is, that given the importance of a strategy for clean electricity generation, that nuclear must be in the mix.

The issue confronting Australia is that there's been a pause in investment in the next generation of electricity production. And utilities have to make those commitments. And those commitments, once made, will survive for 30, 40 and 50 years.

So there's a tension… it's one of the reason why Australian business wants clarity around the rules for the future cost of pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
On siting of reactors...
[A] reactor needs to be close to the energy grid, the transmission grid. It needs to be close to its markets, population. And the current generation of reactors needs access to water; seawater is preferred, so probably near the coast.

Most of the Eastern Seaboard qualifies, and therefore I expect that the early reactors will be found up and down our Eastern Seaboard. On the other hand, you can be 100 kilometres away, and in Australia 100 kilometres away from any population centre puts you in a pretty isolated area.
On decommissioning costs...
What are often publicised costs are the remediation and rehabilitation costs associated with the earlier… the earliest reactors, that were designed largely for weapons-grade productions, and often designed without any attention to the environment. And so you see these costs mount to be monumental numbers in the US and in the UK. In Australia, we'd be deploying new reactors that are designed to be environmentally friendly, and that are designed to be able to be decommissioned in a very cost-effective way.

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