Tuesday, 25 September 2007

No one is saying it has to be done tomorrow...

Energy security issues aside for a moment, it has been said if nuclear power is to be a serious contributor to the mitigation of severe and abrupt climate change, some 600 or so plants would have to be constructed globally in less than 43 years? Is this possible?

Looking at history, I’d say yes – certainly.

During the mid 1980’s [between 1981 and 1988] there was a sustained global deployment of 20 plants per year. Two years saw operations commence at over 30 plants. If the construction projects get up and running by say 2015, we have 35 years remaining and could very feasibly construct and commission 700 facilities – and that’s with technology that existed in the 1980’s. 30 years of improved construction techniques and technology as well as more mature regulatory processes, would surely improve the likelihood of achieving that goal.

In the short term [1 to 5 years], the ‘low hanging fruit’ can be addressed to take a bite out of emissions. Such work as efficiency improvement initiatives, and the deployment of cost effective renewables are some examples.

In the interim [say 5 to 20 years], nuclear facility deployment can – and by the looks of it will – be carried out in current nuclear powered countries, mainly at existing nuclear sites.

But also in the near term and interim, the prerequisites for nuclear energy must be addressed in non-nuclear countries considering nuclear power. Many such prerequisites may be found in the International Atomic Energy Agency document, “Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power”. Most, if not all, of the recommended actions and milestones do not require significant financial resources, but do require a fair amount of time to fully achieve. Once this infrastructure is developed, the longer term [15 to 45 years] options for nuclear power will be available in relevant non-nuclear countries.

To fail to address the development of a nuclear infrastructure [which in itself is certainly no commitment to nuclear power] displays a combination of short-sightedness and unjustified overconfidence in efficiency, renewables and research that would be unethical if it were not so immoral – particularly considering Australia’s per-capita contribution to global emissions.

Listen to what Professor Tim Flannery says about nuclear (21-Aug-2006). He repeatedly denies being a ‘face for the nuclear industry’. He is however emphasizing the need to consider and adequately address the relevant issues so nuclear power can play a part in the solution if – after considerable effort and investment – we discover we can not get there without it.

It is time for a serious start.

No comments:

Post a Comment