“Anti-nuclear arguments of “too slow” and “too costly” ring hollow when smacked with simple numerical truths”
This is an energy flow diagram for Australia in 2009/2010, taken from the Federal Government’s Energy in Australia 2012. If you are in the fossil fuel game, it’s a dream. If you are concerned about climate change, it’s a nightmare.
There is a lot to glean from this. Here are a few interesting points:
- Coal energy exports are over 4 times larger than domestic coal use
- Uranium energy exports, on the assumption of use in current generation light water reactors, are 1.7 times larger in energy terms than our entire domestic coal generation, and the electricity they produce releases no greenhouse gas
- Uranium energy exports, if deployed in Integral Fast Reactors that extract energy from all of the uranium, would provide roughly the same energy as our entire domestic coal and coal exports, with no greenhouse gas… fifty times over
Here’s a great video to explain the Integral Fast Reactor technology
Further into the report, we get a closer look at electricity generation. Here we can see the following.
- Production from carbon-intensive sources is about 11 times larger than production from renewables
- Production from non-hydro renewables is about 30 times smaller than production from carbon-intensive sources
- Wind production has grown nearly three-fold in four years… to now provide about 2% of the electricity as supplied by carbon-intensive sources
- Solar PV production has tripled in four years, a period that is acknowledged as a massive boom… to now provide 0.14% of the electricity supplied by carbon-intensive sources
Impressive growth figures can hide painful realities. The reality here is that while everything can help, to pin hopes on non-hydro renewables to get us off fossil fuels in a reasonable timeframe is deluded.
If climate change is a priority, excluding nuclear power from our energy planning is crazy. Another image that illustrates this comes from a surprise source… Germany. Even more surprisingly, the chart comes from a page called “Why solar will win the energy wars”.
It is clear that the smart way to displace that brown horizontal slab called “Lignite” would be by increasing the red horizontal slab called “Uranium”. To draw an analogy from the animal kingdom, if you needed to replace the function of a tiger in an ecosystem, an Indian lion might be a good choice: same basic beast, no stripes. Releasing 250 house cats and training them to gang up to bring down large game… may be possible. But it’s not going to be optimal.
So can we do it? The final chart comes from France and makes the resounding case: yes, we can.
The main barrier does not lie in the nuclear technology, but in our refusal to embrace it in a strategy to fight climate change. Arguments of “too slow” and “too costly” ring hollow when smacked with the simple numerical truths of the challenge and our options.
The message today is for those who support renewables, but not nuclear. Please, support both.
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