Sunday, 4 March 2007

SA Labour MP - Tom Kenyon

An opinion as reported in The Australian:

“It's time we in the ALP gave up pretending that nuclear energy is Satan's power supply of choice, because it's not working. It's time we stopped repeating the myth that waste is an issue that can't be dealt with. Some countries such as Sweden are dealing with it. It's time we stopped saying that nuclear power is bad for the environment. It's just not true. Name one species that has been made extinct by nuclear power. You can't, can you?

Now have a think about the environmental effects of global warming. The whole Great Barrier Reef - gone. Whole biosystems - wiped out. And with them species after species after species. Are we really going to let an ideological hangover from the Cold War stop us from fixing this thing?

It's time we accepted that in some countries nuclear power is the solution.

Nuclear power is not an environmental problem, it's an economic problem. The Prime Minister's political attempt to wedge the ALP over nuclear power will cost the average family between $500 and $1000 a year. If you have a $1000-a-year electricity bill, the Switkowski report says nuclear power means you'll be paying $1500. That'll be $3000 if you already have a $2000 bill.”

Mr. Kenyon goes on to promote Geothermal...

"Geothermal energy is emission free, cheaper than nuclear, not much more expensive than our present coal and definitely cheaper than coal if allowances are made for geo-sequestration.

...there are some technical areas where processes employed in Australia would differ from those used overseas and these need to be dealt with quickly.

The federal Government could be doing a lot to help. For instance, it should develop a drilling subsidy for geothermal similar to the South Australian PACE initiative which is for minerals).

This would put in one government dollar for every private dollar incurred in the very expensive drilling required. It should also introduce a flow-through share scheme for geothermal.

This would pass the tax deductions for exploration and development costs incurred by geothermal companies on to their shareholders, thus increasing investment in a risky sector.

A national emissions trading scheme, furthermore, would help."

Mr. Kenyon seems to prefer a dollar for dollar subsidy for Geothermal over the 50% (i.e. 50 cents on the dollar) suggested for nuclear.

Am I reading this correctly?


  1. Not quite. He seems to be arguing:

    * the ALP should get over itself on nuclear.
    * the big concern about nuclear is the cost.
    * an emissions trading scheme is necessary
    * geothermal energy should be subsidized explicitly.

    If Kenyon can convince some more of his colleagues on the first point (the third is getting pretty widely accepted across both the major parties now, at least publicly), that will be a great service.

    I think there is an arguable case for some seed money thrown at the hot rock geothermal industry beyond the general support to non-emitting power source (disclosure: I own a small number of shares in Geodynamics, a company doing HDR geothermal development). Nuclear is a reasonably mature technology (not to say there isn't real potential for innovation, of course). HDR geothermal is a brand-new industry, and thus some government money might get a real payoff in tech development.

    There's of course the argument that governments shouldn't be in the winner-picking business at all, but both major parties are heavily involved in it already.

    What's your view?

  2. Thanks for the comment & for the candour of your disclaimer.

    My opinion? The basics of my opinion may be found it the very first post to this Blog. But specifically I believe that action (and by this I mean financial support) on the part of government is absolutely necessary to reduce emissions linked to climate change and address other energy issues here and abroad (energy security for example).

    But I would be against giving the money to one sector only (picking winners as you say). The decisions regarding ‘who gets what’, should result from an open, objective, transparent and well communicated process. This process must consider the capability, availability, cost, risks, impacts, etc. of each proposed solution.

    I would hope that several technologies would be pursued in parallel; but for now we must work to get the most bang for our buck.

    To add my own disclaimer, I am no geothermal expert. But I’m willing to listen and hope the technology gets due consideration as we move forward.