Nuclear options need to be in the energy mix - expert guide

A symposium of energy experts has called for a national discussion on nuclear options, including mining, power generation and waste storage, to help address Australia’s energy security and climate change challenges.

The symposium held at ANU on 11 April reviewed the report of the South Australian Government’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

A communique from the symposium, released today, urged governments to remove laws that prohibit nuclear fuel cycle activities, and thereby constrain free and open discussions.

Symposium coordinator and Director of the ANU Energy Change Institute, Professor Ken Baldwin, said the Royal Commission’s report was a landmark examination of the prospects for the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia.

“At a time when the nation is developing a new national energy plan, as well as a plan to decarbonise the Australian economy, we need to have all options on the table to eventually replace fossil fuels,” he said.

“Wind is the cheapest form of new-build energy, and will soon be joined by large-scale solar,” Professor Baldwin said.

“But as we move to more rapidly decarbonise, higher levels of renewables in the national grid will require additional generating capacity, energy storage and transmission lines.

“The question then becomes: will renewables then be the lowest-cost, zero-carbon emission source of electricity compared with nuclear power?”

The communique also noted that Australia was well placed to start up a new industry in international nuclear waste storage.

“Australia is both geologically and geopolitically stable, with good governance systems - all desirable for nuclear waste storage,” Professor Baldwin said.

The symposium was hosted by The Australian National University (ANU) Energy Change Institute in collaboration with Engineers Australia, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.