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.
Addressing 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.
“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 http://www.zerocarbonoptions.com/