In this radio piece with 5AA Adelaide, I was given sufficient space to talk through the nature of the cost savings to be achieved if Australia embraces a nuclear pathway out to 2050. This is based on the great paper published by Martin Nicholson for the ATSE nuclear conference, which I have linked here.

Spending money on new technology… bah, who needs it?

When talking dollar savings, we need to be clear: the “cheapest” thing we can do is nothing. No response, slaves to inertia, continue to exploit our knowledge and path dependency on our fossil fuels system while bolting on incremental renewables.

This will merely cost us our hospitable climate since, as Professor Andy Pitman reminded us last week, we are currently on track to a completely untenable 6°C global average temperature rise by the end of the century.

What Martin’s work tells us is that a deep and rapid response to spiralling greenhouse emissions will be spectacularly cheaper for Australia if nuclear is included, with renewables, to break through to an entirely new system that decouples our well-being from fossil fuel combustion.

Isn’t that what we need?


  1. Leon Byner used to be a rock’n roller now it seems bigger issues weigh more heavily. Tomorrow night on the ABC Dick Smith will tell us that NSW won’t have enough gas by 2015. At some point they will need to build new baseload plant such as the 2+GW Bayswater 2. However SA is already more gas dependent. Also from the ABC online WA’s Canning Basin will frack but like the SA Cooper Basin the gas won’t be cheap. Something’s gotta give.

  2. Seriously? 6C is way out of expectation for everyone save the most embarrassing catastrophists. The current consensus estimates are around 1 – 1.5C based on no change. Reduction is mostly due to sensitivity to CO2 being found less than previously expected.

      1. Sure. My understanding is that my comment lines up pretty well with the content of the new IPCC report, but that will have to wait until it is issued for confirmation.

  3. SA’s high vulnerability to gas prices can be seen in the last graph here
    Gas fired generation seems to persist around the 45% level. If the wind capacity goes from 1200 MW to say 1800 MW by building for example the proposed Ceres wind farm then the wind fraction will increase but at some cost to user power prices. Think death of car industry, OD still not expanded. Even if the SA gas fraction declined from ~45% to somewhere in the 30-40% range that could be too high as gas prices escalate, perhaps double in a few years. SA needs a replacement for high priced gas.

  4. If I’ve done my numbers correctly, the $7.5B left in the CEFC or the $8B in the Direct Action Plan could build enough nuclear power capacity to achieve the requisite 5% reduction in power generation CO2 emissions all on its own.

    That’s basically building two CANDU 6 units as mentioned in your report, producing 1380MW@90% = 10880GWh / year between them for the money available.

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