In 2012, my friend James Brown and I self-published Zero Carbon Options: An economic mix for an environmental outcome. We wrote it in response to the frustration expressed by many that the argument for renewables to replace coal was seeming to go largely unanswered. Despite our efforts at the time, what we considered relevant corporate bodies within Australia were unwilling to help us fund the effort. So we did it anyway, gratis, as a contribution to the debate because it needed to be done.
We launched the report publicly with the generous support of a crowd-funded campaign. At the time, some attention was garnered. With the advent of the South Australian Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle, this seems an opportune time to draw attention to this report again.
Prepared over about six months, the report compares two options for the replacement of coal power from Port Augusta in South Australia: a reference renewable case, based entirely on the report RePower Port Augusta, and a reference nuclear case that applies a single Enhanced CANDU 6 generation III reactor. The options are compared against thirteen criteria. For what seems such an obvious methodology, I am unaware of this approach being applied before, or since, Zero Carbon Options. It also features some wonderful graphics and production values, thanks to artist Jeff Pang and James’ talented other half, Melissa.
In the nearly three years since publication the results have never been challenged. I am not surprised, given the scrutiny we applied to our own work and the expert review from Professor Barry Brook and Mr Martin Nicholson. The issues we raised are as relevant today as in 2012, as Australia remains without any serious plan to move away from our extraordinary level of dependence on fossil fuels in our electricity supply, and so many commentators remain (deliberately?) ignorant regarding the very basic limitations of expecting to rely on variable renewable energy sources alone.
The report is available in PDF below:
Here is the two-part video the report launch from 2012, with a discussion of the methodology and key findings. At the time of launch we had several hundred hard-copies which we distributed. Given the arrival of the Royal Commission another print-run would be great, however this is not cheap (about $1000). If anyone would like to fund a new print run, please get in touch.
I hope you enjoy Zero Carbon Options and I encourage you to share it widely.