“It is futile to wait until the political climate is “right” for nuclear power. We make it right.” 

My engagement with South Australia’s political leadership has, so far, been quite limited. But it has been very consistent. The message that keeps coming back from the political class about nuclear power in South Australia can be summed up thusly: The only thing wrong with nuclear power is that it is an electoral liability. Not finance. Not environmental impact. Not health concerns. Not reliability. Electoral liability.

I think there are two basic responses to this realisation. Both are true and valid. But only one is empowering.

The first is to bemoan the state of our short-term political system, where leadership and vision come a distant second to the safest route to either winning or maintaining office. There is nothing untrue about that notion; spend any time on it though, and your agency will be sapped to zero.

The other response is to twig to the fact that nothing is standing in the way of South Australia fixing this problem, and leading the world in clean electricity generation, than the word of South Australians. That’s us. It is futile to wait until the political climate is “right” for nuclear power. We make it right by bringing the vision to our fellow citizens, getting them on board, and telling our political leaders that there is now safe space to talk about it. Those of us who have done the time looking at the climate crisis and the energy options available to us will know that once you start talking honestly and openly about nuclear power, it speaks very nicely for itself.

So that’s our current priority challenge; build the conversation on nuclear power at the citizen level in South Australia, and create safe space for conversation at the political level. It’s the first step in taking nuclear power from electoral liability to electoral possibility, and then electoral certainty.

10 comments

  1. I’m not sure that there are no financial impediments to the viability of nuclear power generation in Australia (and elsewhere). For example, is there an Australian equivalent of the USA’s Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act? Will Australian governments cap the liability associated with nuclear accidents, and at what cost? Can a nuclear project obtain finance without such a liability cap?

    1. Australia is nowhere near having any such thing in place, we will barely even discuss nuclear power. A central task for Decarbonise SA is to cost out actual replacement of our baseload, so we will see what we get… As Mark points out, this is all relative to coal and gas that has to go. A loan guarantee seems a good deal compared to the straight handouts demanded by baseload renewables.

  2. Another thing which is politically unstable at the moment is the looming lack of power in SA. Once people begin to understand that baseload imported from Eastern States at huge cost ($ & GHG), then the mood will swing to look at the most viable alternatives – now.
    I feel that only the grim realities of brown outs, outages and high costs are understood – as I think they are beginning to be, then the mood can change quickly. Politicians at the end of the day need to act to preserve our standard of living and more and more taxes are not going to be electorally sustainable.
    Interconnectors cost big $, as do smart grids and wind and solar thermal and PV.

    Pragmatically, GHG abatement and energy needs for the future of SA point to a nuclear future and I think the costs are beginning to bite on the so called alternatives. Maybe some more regualr polling to inform the pollies of the mood swing will help them establish a more pragmatic electoral platform?

    1. “Interconnectors cost big $, as do smart grids and wind and solar thermal and PV.” As does nuclear, presumably.

      I am highly dubious about cost data I see for nuclear, so hopefully this website can break the costs down, and can include all the costs, so we can compare apples with apples.

      1. Thanks Andrew and I agree that there are going to be costs whichever way we go. I think the only thing which abates GHG and produces energy approaching the cost of coal and with the capability now of generating baseload – is nuclear.

        All states are now basically in this position, so interconnector supplied peak energy will come at huge cost – which at some point the consumer will have to wear.

        Gas looks like the winner in the short term, but in SA capacity to generate base load will be a prime consideration and a requirement for huge investment.

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