Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?

 

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The establishment by the Federal Government this week of an inquiry into what is needed for the consideration of nuclear energy in Australia is an “important first step in starting a mature fact-based national conversation for the Australian community,” says Tania Constable (pictured), CEO, Minerals Council of Australia.

 

On the other end of the energy spectrum, public consultation will soon start by the firm Sun Cable into a $20bn project, a 15,000 hectare solar array near Tennant Creek that will transmit 3GW of electricity to Singapore via a 3800 km High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable – one fifth of the nation’s demand.

 

The firm says: “Australia’s strong relationship with Singapore, its stable economy, political and legal framework, will ensure security of supply for Singapore.

 

“The [array] will be supported by battery storage. This will allow Singapore, and also the Northern Territory, to have a more diverse electricity supply, thereby increasing resilience and helping it meet its Paris Commitment greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

 

While Ms Constable says the rest of the world is already focusing on the critical role nuclear energy will play in “delivering zero emissions 24/7 energy to a power-hungry world,” Sun Cable would provide risk free use of what the NT has in abundance: Land and sun.

 

Nuclear energy is safe, reliable and affordable, says Ms Constable: “With 30% of the world’s known uranium reserves and as the third largest uranium producer, Australia will be critical to helping the world meet its need for electricity while also reducing emissions.

 

“Australia has some of the highest energy costs in the developed world, an ageing baseload power generator fleet and real challenges with integrating large amounts of intermittent energy sources into the grid without appropriate back-up supplies.

 

“By initiating an inquiry into nuclear power, the Federal Government is allowing the Australian community to have an honest discussion regarding the role existing and new nuclear technologies like small modular reactors could play in addressing Australia’s medium and long term energy challenges.”

 

Says Sun Cable: “As an island nation, Singapore is reliant on imported Liquid Natural Gas for 95% of its electricity.

 

“This leaves Singapore’s electricity consumers excessively exposed to the vagaries of global oil and gas pricing.”

 

The solar firm says online that an allied company, 5B, “have started with a clean slate and developed the simplest, fastest and smartest way to deliver large scale solar.

 

“Each Big Field Maverick used by Sun Cable is six panels across and generates 135KWp.

 

“Built off-site, and transported in a standard 40 foot shipping container, they are deployed in under an hour on-site.”

 

Labor in NT has a chequered history on energy: On the one hand, uranium exploration and mining was opposed in the lead-up to the 2012 election, which the CLP won.

 

Four years later, in the election Labor won, the party took an anti fracking stance which, as many ALP voters see it, it later reneged upon on after a sham enquiry.

 

PHOTO AT RIGHT: There was a hot debate about mining uranium in 2012 NT election: Greatorex candidate Rowan Foley (Labor) and wife Michelle are pictured with supporters – Andre Burgess, Sandra Ball, Andrew Ferguson, Barbara Ferguson (obscured), and Paul Acfield – at a community barbecue where Mr Foley wanted to hear from Greatorex residents about their concerns. KIERAN FINNANE reported.

 

 

 

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5 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Tony
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I just want to make sure that Australians understand that any undersea cable connecting Australia and Singapore will by necessity cross Indonesia.
    I can’t see a business case in this. It seems obvious that if Sun Cable is serious about selling to Singapore, it is simpler and faster to just build the solar farm in Sumatra and lay down only 100 km of undersea cable to Singapore.
    Any inefficiency of the Indonesian infrastructure, onerous bureaucracy, even corruption, is made up by the fact that one only has to spend for 100 km of undersea cable instead of 3500 km.
    And Sun Cable will still have to deal with Indonesia no matter what. Laying several thousand km of undersea cable across a country’s territorial seas will require high level bilateral agreement. This proposal is just hype.
    PS: I also think that the correct path going forward is to use both renewable and nuclear. However, that has nothing to do with Sun Cable’s proposal, which seems to be taking a weirdly uneconomical tack to sell an otherwise valuable product.

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  2. Maya
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Seems clear to me now as it was in 2012. Uranium has its many dangerous side effects.
    Sun and wind is the answer. So much talk for a very clear pathway. And please forget coal, gas and fracking. Nature’s balance is too fragile to even consider.
    The mining lobbies and politicians should know by now what is right for the planet, its people and our common future.

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  3. Posted August 3, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    @ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2013/07/11/when-gas-turns-to-hot-air/ and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
    The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
    Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!

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  4. Paul Parker
    Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Expect little public difference if we had 100% of the world’s nuclear materials.
    Many regard the main issue to consider with nuclear energy is nuclear waste, including nuclear side-products.
    Most IMHO do not accept these as safe, nor reliable, nor affordable.
    Until clearer explanations, more details, greater education, concerning nuclear wastes and side-products are available, particularly these with long-term-lives, expect little change in public sentiment.
    Public concern grows with political decision-makers dumbing down the public, exhibiting little interest in public involvement or consideration.

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  5. Ted Egan
    Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    It’s like fracking. Until we know all the answers to all the questions, let’s dodge nuclear power.
    Find out where the uranium is, but leave it there for the moment.
    A Tennant Creek solar farm is a great idea. Has anybody ever noticed that Tennant is also perfect for wind generation?
    It’s always windy, either hot or cold, but usually at speed desirable for effective functioning.
    Here’s the chance for the Warramungu to become millionaires. It’s what they deserve.

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