Sunday, 29 April 2007

Democrats Looking to Alternatives

As reported in the Sunday Herald Sun:

Democrats leader Lyn Allison is claiming Australia can (and should) rely on renewables to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.

She points to Denmark as an example. But as I've pointed out here, while Denmark's efforts are worthy of respect, they have failed to achieve adequate emission reduction results.

Similarly with solar. I have been unable to find an example where solar power has achieved anywhere near the results necessary to help Australia achieve any respectable reduction in emissions.

However, with respect to nuclear - have a look at the below table from this BBC article on Canada's recent announcement that it will miss its Kyoto targets:

Spain - 8 reactors producing about 25% of the nation's electricity

Austria - no nuclear power programme

Portugal - no nuclear power programme

Finland - 4 operating reactors producing about 25% of the nation’s electricity. A fifth reactor is under construction for operation beginning in 2011.

Italy - had 4 operating reactors, but shut them all down following the Chernobyl accident. Italy currently imports over 10% of its electrical power from nuclear power stations in surrounding countries.

Denmark - no nuclear power programme

Ireland - no nuclear power programme

Greece - no nuclear power programme

Luxembourg - no nuclear power programme

Belgium - 7 operating reactors generating more than 50% of the nation's electricity

Netherlands - 1 operating reactor generating 4% of the nation's electricity, also imports some nuclear

France - 59 operating nuclear reactors generating 78% of the nation's electricity. France embraced the nuclear fuel cycle early on and today is the world's largest net exporter of electricity. France gains over 3 billion Euro (4.9 billion $AUD) a year from these exports.

Germany - 17 operating reactors produce 33% of the nation's electricity

United Kingdom - 19 operating reactors produce 20% of the nation's electricity

Sweden - 10 operating reactors produce 45% of the nation's electricity. With hydro producing 47%, Sweden seems to be a Kyoto poster-child.

Looking at these real world examples; ALL countries above who are ahead of their Kyoto schedule rely on nuclear as part of their generating portfolios. Also EVERY country without nuclear plants is struggling to fulfil its Kyoto commitments.

The data and experience support nuclear power's role in any credible effort to address emissions - particularly to achieve the daunting targets being proposed by some in Australia.


  1. Hi, I followed your link from Democrat Andrew Bartlett's blog. I found your discussion of the issues pretty good, but I disagree with the inference that Australia should turn to nuclear.

    The countries in your chart have established nuclear power plants that are online now.

    Australia won't have any operating for twenty years, and even if 25 are built (where?) they will supply only 8-16% of the baseload for the system. This is on top of a huge investment that could easily fund efficiency and renewable drives.

    Good article though!

  2. Hi Coco. & thanks for your thoughts.

    Of course they have established nuclear programmes. That was sort of my point - that those countries who are on track to meet their Kyoto targets have very robust nuclear programmes.

    My other point was that money invested in efficiency and renewable drives will not be enough to make a significant impact on Australia's impact. I gave an example of a country that tried hard to achieve their goal with efficiency and renewables - but is failing.

    I'm looking for similar examples to the contrary. Sadly, I can only find reports etc. from people with little relevant experience other than R&D or academia - professing the virtual unlimited potential of renewables (based on small-scale demonstrations, or worse, extrapolated calculations). These arguments should not be the basis (or certainly not the principal basis) for such significant decisions.

  3. Hello Ed -

    Thanks for sharing this chart regarding Kyoto goals along with the summary regarding percentage of nuclear electricity in each country!! This is very useful information!

    You might enjoy an old post that I did last year that showed some International Energy Agency charts of the European countries and their electricity sources, along with some info on per capita CO2 emissions.

    By the way - the International Energy Agency has endorsed nuclear energy - with reference to the climate situation as well as the energy supply issue.