A former anti-nuclear environmentalist has become one of the first people in the world to co-author an independent report pitting the advantages of nuclear energy against renewable energy for electricity generation.

2012_Low Res 3Addressing the Paydirt 2013 Uranium Conference in Adelaide today, ThinkClimate Consulting Director, Mr Ben Heard, unveiled Zero Carbon Options – Seeking an Economic Mix for an Environmental Outcome – a comprehensive, self-funded report analysing 13 specific benchmarks to identify the most efficient energy source to replace two small coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta in South Australia.

“If as a country, we continue to say ‘no’ to nuclear energy as a way of addressing climate change, we better damn well be sure we know why we are saying ‘no’,” Mr Heard said.

 “To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done before anywhere in the world,” he said.

logo only “One of the advantages of this report is the fact it is based on an actual case study – powering the Port Augusta electricity stations – so can easily be used as a blueprint for similar plants utilised anywhere in the world.

 “This report applied a multi-criteria analysis of the performance of different technology solutions against the specific task of reliability replacing the electricity provided by two small coal-fired power stations.

 “If Australians are genuinely serious about addressing climate change including reducing greenhouse gas emissions – nuclear is by far the best way to go.

 “Across the board, the results stand for themselves – less start-up costs, lower cost electricity, much smaller land use, no use of fresh water, more reliable generation capacity….the list goes on.”

The multi-criteria analysis used to compare nuclear energy against a hybrid renewable option (combining solar and wind) included capital cost, operational waste, land use, water consumption, job creation, lifespan of plant, reliability and existing global and national generating capacity.

 Mr Heard said the challenge of maintaining and building Australia’s economy while engaging in rapid decarbonisation was a daunting one.

“But to take the challenge without impartially exploring every available zero-carbon generation technology is unwise – and arguably, irresponsible,” Mr Heard said.

 “And as any environmentalist knows, to reduce our carbon footprint coal must be eliminated from the global energy debate post haste,” he said.

 “And ALL options need to be considered for that footprint reduction to occur.

 “Our hope that this report will foster a more open and accountable decision of all the zero-carbon options that are currently available to us”.

 A copy of the report can be obtained at



  1. At the federal level I see Gary Gray the successor to sin binned Martin Ferguson also supports nuclear energy.
    At the state level it seems like Koutsantonis is an old V8 ute that has converted to gas. He once supported enrichment for SA. Another tick for the Candu which I understand doesn’t require enriched fuel. When in 2015 SA pays double for gas what it paid in 2012 Koutsantonis may rethink his liking for gas or gas dependent intermittent generation.

    I don’t get SA politicians. The state’s biggest project is the Olympic Dam expansion requiring 650 MW of new power and 250 ML/d of desalination. There is nothing on the horizon to supply that need.

  2. @Ben

    Your report makes an excellent case for the beneficial use of nuclear energy. In your conversations with Australia’s cash endowed mining industry, have you heard much interest in using their clout to obtain permission to consider using the best available tools for their own energy needs? Industrialists tend to understand the need for massive, reliable quantities of power and water and can be reasonably effective at helping others in decision making positions also understand that wind mills and solar panels are simply inadequate to the task.

    I would correct John’s last sentence: “There is nothing ELSE on the horizon to supply that need.”

  3. This may interest Rod as an ex-submariner. A skilled workforce in Adelaide will be looking for something to do in the years between completing the build of surface ships and the delayed start of work on a new design of sub, presumably diesel powered
    The Sub Corp has skill in pressure vessels and project management. They should lay the groundwork for a stationary NPP site which would require an early decision on the model.

    It would be good for defence contractors to get the feel of different projects because I think things will go crazy over oil and gas prices in the next decade. Maybe the new subs will never get built so working on NPP is an each way bet.

    1. John – You’re right. That bit of information is quite interesting to me.

      Ben – do you know anyone or know anyone who knows anyone in the Adelaide work force that John mentions?

      1. Rod,

        Yes, I a have one direct contact and many more with only one degree of separation. Get in touch off-line if you would like to discuss this in more detail.

  4. My thoughts on Geodynamics
    Several groups haven’t reflected well on themselves..
    AEMO who said there would be a baseload power station of up to 525 MW. See SASDO2011
    Martin Ferguson for giving them nearly $200m of federal public funds
    US university MIT for saying enhanced engineered geothermal was a winner
    ex SA premier Mike Rann for saying it would power Olympic Dam
    Origin Energy for spending shareholder’s money.

    To work out the EROEI we need to know how much hydrocarbon was used powering/building the transport, the rigs, surface plant and fracking chemicals. Allow for drilling of refresher holes as the hot zone cools. I note deep greens approve radioactive decay as an energy source but not controlled fission. The old saying about counting chickens before they are hatched seems especially true.

    Not sure what has happened to Petratherm. The alluvial outwash from those granites is the basis for the ISL operations at Beverley and Four Mile.

    1. And when I was a sustainability consultant back in 2006 or so I wrote in excited terms about this for a couple of clients.

      Everyone wanted it to work, for the right reasons. But lots of us were blinded by our desire for a solution and failed to take a hard enough look. I was one of them.

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