Monday, 18 June 2007

Support for Nuclear

Ziggy Switkowski is providing some detail about government's ongoing role with respect to developing a domestic nuclear power programme. Basically, the government will have to develop some prerequisite infrastructure as I've mentioned in this post before. This includes a suitable regulatory regime, technically capable electrical grids and legal frameworks including indemnity [see the US's Price Andersen Act as an example]] as well as how to deal with differences in opinion between federal, state and local officials, etc.
"Government will need to be involved in some form, at a minimum in terms of setting up a credible, enduring regulatory regime, but it might go beyond that, in terms of some form of assurance around the cost of capital because this is the most capital-intensive form of energy generation."
However, over in la-la-land; the Australian Institute conducted a survey which seems a bit ridiculous to this blogger. Apparently - to whose surprise I do not know - most people in Australia would prefer to get their energy from the sun [50%] as opposed to nuclear [8%] or clean coal[1%]. This 'poll', as reported in the link above [the full report is in the second link], completely avoided including the demonstrated technical capabilities of the various options, real world costs, lifecycle analysis, etc. and by doing so results in complete farce. In addition, of the two [yes, two] whole questions in the survey, nuclear was lumped in with clean coal as a selection. Why not ask people if they would prefer to get their energy from that little 'Mr. Fusion' machine from the film 'Back to the Future'? If 90% of Australians favour such an approach - shouldn't government then pursue it?

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth:

Dr Switkowski was confident community support would start to emerge once a reactor was built.

"The experience overseas is that once you get the first reactor in place working well, community support follows quite quickly," he said.

Still, community attitudes towards nuclear energy had already shifted, he said.

"The attitudes we heard a year ago were shaped by the experiences of the '60s and '70s — Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Cold War, upper atmospheric testing — deeply held but largely emotional."

"Today the objections are almost the elements of a business case."

Said Dr Switkowski: "Frankly, if a business case for any sort of energy, including nuclear, can't overcome those reservations, then we shouldn't make the investment."

In other news, Haydon Manning of Flinders University has posted a very interesting opinion about the 'Dogma and delusion over renewables'. In this opinion Manning provides a detailed critique of Mark Diesendorf’s new book on renewable energy, Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy as well as some discussions from last week's conference on nuclear matters hosted by Flinders University. I'll only post a few paragraphs, but highly recommend the whole article.
My problem with Diesendorf’s book, and for that matter with an organisation I’ve long been a member - the Australian Conservation Foundation - is that a very hackneyed 1970s style anti-nuclear rhetoric is employed in the vain hope that this will help bolster the case for renewable energies such as, solar, wind, bio-mass and geo-thermal.
On the 'nuclear lobby':
The nuclear lobby, last time I looked, was hard to find. It certainly pales alongside the power environmental NGOs (Friends of the Earth, Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, and so on). There is no nuclear lobby of consequence because there is no nuclear industry. All there is, is a rational case for considering nuclear power here and in countries where lower carbon options for energy security are difficult to come by.
And finally in Politics this day, LABOR'S candidate for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman is stumping up fears and playing the 'N' card to get ahead. Bringing in none other than Helen Caldicott herself to project mass local extinction within days of a nuclear power plants commissioning.

I wonder if Darren Cheeseman supports Labor's emissions reduction target - and more importantly the elusive and unspecific means to achieve this... Just as I asked another left leaning politico in this post - where are your detailed plans Mr. Cheeseman?

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