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On nuclear, tell them they’re dreaming

Nuclear power might be worth considering … but

Professor John Quiggin writes in Inside Story (11.12.14) that: ‘There is still a chance for nuclear power to contribute to decarbonisation of the global economy in China and other countries with an existing program or the state power to force through a crash program. But these conditions don’t exist in Australia, and there is no serious prospect that they will do so in time to play a substantial role in decarbonisation. Anyone who pretends nuclear power is a serious option for Australia under current conditions is dreaming or, worse still, deliberately diverting attention from the real issues.’

If the opposition wants a mature discussion about nuclear energy, start with a carbon price. Without that, nuclear is wildly uncompetitive

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (10.6.22) about the federal Coalition’s push to include nuclear power in considerations of a low-emissions energy mix. The author suggests that renewed interest in nuclear energy will go nowhere unless those in office talk seriously about carbon pricing.

‘The idea of nuclear power in Australia has been hotly debated for decades. Most of this discussion has been unproductive, focusing on symbolism and identity politics rather than the realities of energy policy. For that reason alone, we should welcome the commitment by opposition party leaders David Littleproud and Peter Dutton to a mature conversation about nuclear power, free of political taboos.

‘Far and away the most important such taboo is the unwillingness of either Labor or the LNP to consider an effective price on carbon. A string of inquiries into nuclear power such as the 2006 Switkowski Review and the 2016 South Australian Royal Commission concluded nuclear power will never be commercially viable without a high price on carbon dioxide emissions.

‘The reasoning behind this conclusion is simple. Nuclear power directly competes with coal-fired electricity as a source of continuous 24-hour generation. But building nuclear plants is much more expensive than new coal-fired plants.’

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