I have been flicking through submissions to the South Australian Royal Commissions, and the submisison from The Australia Institute jumped out

 P181 SA nuclear royal commission submission FINAL_0 (2) 

The submission references a page on this site. It also goes to quite some effort to sow doubt regarding the themes of the submission from the office of Senator Sean Edwards, a submission I was chiefly tasked with preparing.

The argument posited, mainly via rhetorical questions, is a neat little circle that goes something like this:

  • If the market for used fuel storage is real then recycling the material for energy isn’t.
  • If the recycling technology is real, then the market for used fuel storage isn’t.

Here are their words:

However, despite being based on technology piloted decades ago, at commercial scales these reactors are still at the concept stage, and no fourth generation power plants yet exist (from page 9)…Additionally, the same fourth generation technology that Australia might hope to build which turns spent fuel into a resource would invalidate any business case for high-level waste storage. If Australia can profit from waste by generating electricity, why can’t everyone else? If reprocessing can be profitable, wouldn’t it be more profitable if sited next to existing stockpiles and existing reactors? If waste can be profitably turned into electricity, as fourth generation reactors appear able to do, why would anyone pay us to take their waste? (from page 13)

As a doctoral student working under three highly-published scientific supervisors, I don’t write in questions. As a researcher, my job is to seek understanding and provide answers based on evidence; a standard I took to the work with Senator Edwards. What this passage says to me is that The Australia Institute doesn’t want answers; questions will be just fine.

In attempting to discredit the readiness and safety of used fuel storage, the submission quotes Stephen Chu, former Secretary of Energy to the United States government. Under a section headed “Technical problems of nuclear waste storage” this quote regarding Chu appears:

In 2009 Steven Chu, then US Secretary for Energy, said, “Yucca Mountain as a repository is off the table. What we’re going to be doing is saying, let’s step back. We realize that we know a lot more today than we did 25 or 30 years ago.

If you think that ends abruptly, well, so did I. So I did this really clever thing I learned from my times arguing with climate change deniers.

I read the source.

Here is the quote in full:

Steven ChuYucca Mountain as a repository is off the table. What we’re going to be doing is saying, let’s step back. We realize that we know a lot more today than we did 25 or 30 years ago. The NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] is saying that the dry cask storage at current sites would be safe for many decades, so that gives us time to figure out what we should do for a long-term strategy. We will be assembling a blue-ribbon panel to look at the issue.

[We’re] looking at reactors that have a high-energy neutron spectrum that can actually allow you to burn down the long-lived actinide waste. [Editor’s note: Actinides include plutonium, which can be dangerous for 100,000 years.] These are fast neutron reactors. There’s others: a resurgence of hybrid solutions of fusion fission where the fusion would impart not only energy, but again creates high-energy neutrons that can burn down the long-lived actinides.

This practice by The Australia Institute is called cherry-picking. The quote from Chu is not only desperately incomplete, but contradicts the positions put forward by The Australia Institute and supports the positions put forward by Senator Sean Edwards. That is, that dry-cask storage has proven remarkably safe, will be an effective solution into the future and the use of fast-neutron reactors is under active consideration.

The Australia Institute’s motto is “research that matters” and their philosophy includes “through a combination of research and creativity we can promote new solutions and ways of thinking”.
Sounds nice. My suggestion would be that the “creativity” comes after the research. Not during.

25 comments

  1. That view was in The Guardian a few days ago
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/18/an-expanded-nuclear-industry-in-south-australia-makes-no-economic-sense
    In my opinion if nuclear electric country acquires fissile material they are married to it. They should have one or more of the options of reprocessing, permanent disposal or burnup on home soil. If they want to send it to another country OK but be prepared for that option to be unavailable.

    There are some shockers out there. After Fukushima the ABC’s Mark Willacy went to Lanyu Island off Taiwan
    http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2013/s3733236.htm
    where corroded drums of nuclear waste may one day leach into the sea, albeit in diluted form. I guess it would be better if it was put on a ship and sent to SA. However the Taiwanese could do a much better job of disposing it on their own territory.

    I think SA must spend the next decade getting power reactor skills then review the case for taking international waste. A lot can happen in that decade… the public will be less alarmed and Gen IV reactors will be closer to commercial status in the West. It could turn out by 2030 or so countries like Taiwan have got their act together. If not by then the SA public may be more receptive to taking overseas waste.

  2. I’ve made a point of reading through all of the “anti” submissions to get insight into what provokes such impassioned self-righteousness – certainly a value found on both sides of the debate.

    A submission that might be instructive to look into is the one by Friends of the Earth: http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/app/uploads/2015/08/Friends-of-the-Earth-Adelaide-01-08-2015.pdf ; which uses much of the same arguments. Lenzen and Sovacool get their time; as do Price-Anderson and Areva’s EPR troubles. The Lancet INWORKS cohort also gets referenced.

    I think it offers a valuable insight into the environmentalist mentality that this truly is some kind of zero sum game to them; that they truly feel threatened by a false dichotomy of a nuclear energy pathway on one hand and a renewables pathway on the other. Throughout these submissions – and here is another by FoE/CCA/ACF: http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/app/uploads/2015/08/Friends-of-the-Earth-Australia-Australian-Conservation-Foundation-Conservation-Coucil-of-SA-10-08-2015.pdf there is the thread of illuminating an untrustworthy industry desperate to find new platforms for expansion. That there are corporate giants hiding a deep history of malfeasance and obfuscation in a deadly field of industry.

    Indeed, FoE sees nuclear as a threat precisely because in their view, it re-inforces a centralised paradigm of production:
    “A simple comparison of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power with those from other energy sources fails to capture some crucial consequences of nuclear power programs. These consequences include displacing renewable energy, discouraging energy efficiency and entrenching a high energy production and consumption system. As discussed in section 3.7, nuclear energy is a direct competitor to renewable energy and an enemy of energy efficiency.” – page 6

    I think what you will find in pushing for nuclear in South Australia is this: that the agenda will not be set by evidence and truth, but in a culture clash of ideologies between centralised production and industry, and a decentralising revolution that is the renewable dream even as they buy solar panels from SolarCity’s multi-billion dollar GigaFactory (or China) and wind turbines from the same Siemens that makes supercritical coal furnaces. I think that nuclear will inevitably lose this culture clash – the renewable narrative is simply too seductive, too relatable to resist even though thermodynamics and rare earth availability is against them.

    This is precisely why I think that the battlefield on which support for nuclear is won or lost will not be in industry stakeholders, but in the constituents that the green groups serve. Cut off the body of the snake, and the head dies. A mangling of an aphorism, but appropriate, I feel. The insulated groupthink that is the green ideology will need to be challenged and deconstructed. FoE and ACF will need to learn about Guiyu and Baotou and Banqiao as much as they do Germany. They must learn that in energy we must choose the least worst monster, because there is no free lunch.

    1. Yet, Sulzon and Vestas aren’t small cottage like industries. Neither is AGL the largest operator of Wind power in Australia.

      Clearly shows the religious fervour that these power sources are followed with.

  3. Expect more convoluted responses to the RC. The ACT think they will crack 100% renewable electricity http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/canberra-fully-powered-by-renewables/story-e6frfku9-1227494229983
    Sources include a wind farm near Jamestown SA only about 1500 km away. Why don’t they disconnect from the NEM so the electricity won’t be tainted by coal or gas? The SA windpower should go the ACT via a dedicated line not into the NEM pool. They might find about 10% transmissions losses they will need to overcompensate for. If the
    Wheatley study
    is correct they will also need to compensate 1/.78 = 1.28 or another 28% for emissions caused by intermittency. Make it 10 + 28 = 38% more Mwh they will have to buy.
    This is the kind of thing the 100% RE crowd will throw at the RC report.

  4. No surprise re Australia Institute lining up with the scatty greens. But any chance of getting a further input – particularly addressing para 2 that you quoted – from Chu? That was six years ago.

  5. Unfortunately this seems to be the MO of the Australia Institute. First they made a half-assed attempt at citing Nuclear Plants during the 2007 federal election that was then used by Labor to spook residents in those electorates. More recently they tried to rebadge funds governments allocate to mining departments to regulate the industry and pay public servants as a subsidy.

    Clearly they like to be more creative than research.

  6. Hi there! I’m the author the paper, and just wanted to respond to your points. You might not have noticed that the full Chu quote, and especially the parts you put in bold, actually support my argument. It’s not really cherry picking if the whole tree agrees!

    So the first bolded part talks about dry cask storage, which will last “many decades”. Now, I’m a big fan of the dry cask design, but even at the high end of lifespan we’re looking at 100 years. This isn’t a permanent solution, and in the absence of Yucca the US doesn’t have one, which is the point I was trying to make. Is anyone proposing to take other countries’ waste in Australia and store it in dry casks? What do we do in 100 years, long after every stopped paying us? It’s generally agreed that a country taking waste would need to be politically stable and economically prosperous, two advantages we have – but will we be stable and prosperous in 100 years? What about the second phase in 200 years? 300?

    So if you think that part contradicts my position, then I think I haven’t explained my position very well.

    The second bolded part relates to the arguments I’m making about a waste market. It will take ~20 years and ~15 billion dollars to set up a waste-for-profit facility (going off the old Pangea proposal, and approximate timeframes for construction of the WIPP and Onkalo). If 4th gen generators start being deployed overseas in a big way, even if not yet completed, the bottom will fall out of the waste business. As Chu is pointing out – why permanently inter waste if it’s going to be a valuable resource in the mid-term?

    So yes, it is a circular problem – but that’s basically the definition of a catch-22. Senator Edwards seems to plan on 1. Taking waste for money, then 2. Using IFRs to turn it into energy and easier-to-store waste. The problem being that #2 cancels #1 out. You can’t have both. And if we succeed with 1, but fail with 2, we’ve got a long term waste problem that might not be solvable (not *technically* – politically. It’ll be humans that screw up a good waste dump, IMO, not nature).

    With regards to IFR deployment, I love the technology, and I’m fairly disgusted at its lack of deployment. But the fact remains that every country out there with a waste stockpile is in a better position to deploy PRISMs (or whatever) than we are – even if they turn out to be more expensive than might be hoped, part of that additional cost is offset against the costs of storing their existing waste, in money, political capital and security.

    The timing for Australia is almost perfectly wrong. Fifteen years ago renewables sucked. We could have had reactors going right now – but we didn’t. In fifteen years, we’ll have a better idea what the costs of 4th gen reactors will actually be on an industrial scale (compared with more mature renewables), we’ll have seen other countries iron out the bugs, and we can reassess. In the meantime, we can definitely get 10-15 years of *cheaper* renewable growth before we bump up hard against decreasing returns. We’re right at the point that investment in renewables are hitting the sweet spot of comparatively cheap energy, but with still low levels of deployment.

    I personally think distributed storage is going knock over the last problem in time to make 90+% renewables doable, but *even if you disagree*, surely it’s far more practical right now to put money, resources and political capital into renewables than it is to try to overcome resistance to reactors, which are almost certainly *more expensive than what we have right now*. A dollar spent on wind today is going to save more carbon that the same dollar spent on nuclear.

    Get to 50% renewables, then take another look at what we’ll need going on. And as you know, if the PRISM design works, if it’s as cheap as it might be and someone is pumping them out, we can switch to nuclear in a decade – and at that point, far more cheaply than trying to be among the first off the rank right now.

    That’s where I think Australia has half a shot at expanding a nuclear industry: offer to build PRISMs (or similar) for export. Put up the cash to build a pilot or two for an existing nuclear-powered nation. Iron out the bugs. It’s risky financially, sure, but if we build them here and they turn out to be duds, we’ve just given ourselves expensive electricity (when we could have been building cheaper renewables), and a pile of waste that could cost a billion or more to store – if it can be safely stored at all. Proliferation risk, energy security risk (if the design is flawed, how much of our grid needs to be turned off while we fix it?), and huge political risk.

    Whatever we think of stupid political decisions like the IFR or Yucca or Japan, politics happens. One little sneeze and suddenly your industry collapses overnight. Let the folk with existing waste and existing nuclear power take on those risks – they’ve got them anyway, and IFR deployment is going to make their situation *better*, not worse. The investment (in risk *and* money) makes a heap more sense for them than it does for us.

    Australia is simply the wrong place at the wrong time. Get IFRs going in, for example, South Korea (whether we help them do it, or not), potentially make a massive difference to carbon emissions by helping other countries go 4th gen, then come back to the table with costings and experience, and a good comparison to wherever battery and renewable tech landed. That’s what I think, anyway.

    If you disagree, well, I do respect that. In discussions I’ve had I’ve been banging on about the point that physically, nuclear is an extremely safe industry (at least in the short-medium term), and it’s leagues ahead of coal. I just think that the financial and especially political risks in building the industry from scratch in Australia right now are too great, especially combined with the technical uncertainties (e.g. will we even need them in the long run?). And *right now* it seems the rational course is to ramp up renewables, and either wait and see on 4th gen vs renewables as the technologies finish maturing, or actively push 4th gen development in existing nuclear powers.

    1. Why is it that building or developing nuclear reactors comes at a cost to renewables? There are plenty of RE projects in the pipeline, it’s not as if the nuclear pipeline will congest the former.
      Can you point to a case where this exists? China is building both in large numbers, and the US is building both at the same time. Albeit in the latter case it’s more weighted to renewables.

      Why does this have to be either or? We’re in a climate emergency and we’re arguing over which hose to use to put out the fire while it burns.

      I think you need to assess at the geopolitical issues with putting reprocessing on the Korean peninsula as well, regardless if it’s pyroprocessing and poisoning plutonium-239. From what I’ve read it seems that this has already been questioned and the reason for looking to Australia is that these countries can’t or don’t have the capacity to deploy IFRs. The US 123 Agreements are an impediment for some countries to utilise proven waste reduction or storage solutions.

      Honestly, the opinion piece by Richard Denniss in The Guardian was all I needed to see about the use and purpose of this submission. Shame it’s being used this way taking your considered response into account.

      1. Well yeah you can do both, but given that, right now, renewables are (probably) cheaper, why do both? Do the cheap thing. If there’s a target, and we do get serious about meeting the target, it’ll be more cheaply met with renewables.

        Renewables will have scaling problems eventually, but not for long while yet, and ten years from now AP1000s (for example) should have brilliant economies of scale. In other words, *maybe* we’ll need nuclear to finish the job, and *maybe* good 3+ or emerging 4th gen reactors will get enough of a successful work-out to be seen as cheap and reliable, but if we started right now we’d be building *more* expensive generation with very little practical experience. I don’t see how a government should be adding all that risk, when it could be carried by others.

        And yeah, South Korea was a terrible example, but you get the point. We don’t actually have a competitive advantage in building / exporting SMRs anyway, so it’s not an very practical plan. I just think it’d be our least-risky method to advance and prove 4th gen (something that I think would be of tremendous benefit to the world). Once that’s going, the picture is likely to be very different, one way or the other.

        If it works, it’s safe, and it’s cheap, AND we had experience building them for export, that’d also represent a real opportunity to change public perception. Again, I don’t think we actually will need nuclear in the end – I think renewables + storage will overtake it too fast – but even if you disagree, I think waiting a bit for (for example) China to show it can be done, or actively getting involved with low-risk (to us) development of 4th gen for other countries, either way you end up with a much easier sell.

        This is just the perfectly wrong time, IMO.

        And regarding the editorial, I actually think it’s pretty reasonable to try to shoot down Sen Edwards’ talk about Saudi-arabias of the south. That plan, I hope I’ve made clear, is actually pretty silly.

        1. “Maybe” storage will be cheaper and “maybe” it will come online sooner rather than later. That argument doesn’t hold much water. If we did that for all technology we’d be nowhere.

          FWIW the Solar Thermal project in SA that is undergoing feasibility by Alinta has come in at -$297mil NPV and declared not a viable project as the revenues will not offset the sunk costs. So we can scratch that off the list as a project to consider? It’s the same logic as what you are putting for Nuclear. Too expensive, take years to develop and require the government to take on a large risk.

          I believe, and Ben has addressed this below, your concerns have been addressed in the Submission by Sen. Edwards office. So why not read it?

          It just seems that The Australia Institute only researches as far as what will confirm whatever policy agenda is current. In doing so can miss some critical detail. It’s not the first time this has occurred at the institute.

        2. I must say, you seem very relaxed about how urgent tackling climate change is:

          “eventually”
          “not for a long while yet”
          “In fifteen years we’ll have a better idea”
          “get to 50% renewables then take another look”

          I don’t understand this casual attitude.

        3. “I don’t see how a government should be adding all that risk, when it could be carried by others.” This is *exactly* the opposite of arguments advanced by bodies like the Australia Institute in favour of subsidies for renewables.

        4. “Do the cheap thing. … it’ll be more cheaply met with renewables”.

          Dan, it is these sort of simplistic statements that are delaying an effective response to climate change. It implies that renewables are always cheap. In reality the need for reliable 24/7 supply means that some extremely expensive renewable energy would be needed. The economics of hot rock geothermal, solar thermal with storage, and battery storage are so poor that the continued use of fossil fuels would be the likely outcome. That is not a future we can afford.

          The better solution is to price fossil fuel emissions out of existence and let the often complementary economics of renewables and nuclear energy find their own economic equilibrium. Provided that science based risk assessments are the guiding principle, we should put the ideology to one side and be agnostic to all clean energy sources. The real battle should be against climate change.

        5. If we must do the cheap thing, then why, oh why on earth have we done solar when it was very expensive (and still is significantly more than onshore wind), and why are we doing offshore wind which will stay expensive for many years to come ?

          This actually is a completely dishonest response.

  7. Hi Dan
    Thank you for engaging in detail.

    It is cherry-picking. I’ve seen it many times, in many places, and this is it. That section of the report is poorly drafted and poorly referenced and the quote is a blatant cherry-pick. I suggest you own it and move on.

    I am again struck by the use of hypothetical questions. I consider the job of a researcher is to answer questions, not pose them. On this occasion, allow me:
    • A 100 year lifespan may well turn out to be a rolling solution. So far, after several decades the integrity of the casks remains good
    • Yes, there are proposals to take used fuel and store it in dry casks in Australia. Please refer to the submission by Senator Edwards and by the South Australian Economic Development Board
    • When examining the economics of a dry-cask storage facility to serve the used fuel custody market, it becomes readily apparent that customers do not need to “keep paying us”. The available revenues are more than sufficient to economically maintain the solution in perpetuity. See the submission from Senator Edwards
    • I don’t know whether we will be stable and prosperous in 100 years however the argument is moot since
    o we have more chance that anyone
    o This does not prevent us from doing all manner of other things of greater challenge including producing wastes that never, ever go away, or things that take 1000 years to go away such as carbon dioxide which we can’t supervise in simple casks
    o The global used fuel challenge does not go away simply because we decline an opportunity

    I agree, it would be economically unwise to set up a geological repository and permanently inter used fuel. This is not the recommended path from Senator Edwards or the South Australian Economic Development Board. I am not certain TAI has read these submissions to understand what it presumed to criticise. I get the sense that TAI is largely pushing back against a published speech by Senator Edwards and filling in some blanks with assumptions about what is proposed, why it is proposed, and the level of detail and rigour that underpins the arguments. Much of what you argue is simply at cross-purposes with the submission.

    No, #2 does not cancel out #1 unless one presumes the entire situation is remarkably simple and straightforward. It is neither simple nor straightforward technologically, economically, politically, commercially or legally. It is challenging, however it is a challenge that holds a large potential opportunity and there is a clever way forward. Please refer to the submission from Senator Edwards. Overall the submission by TAI demonstrates a lack of research rigour on this topic.
    As to the stated fondness for PRISM technology, your submission failed to include nearly every relevant, up-to-date reference on this topic. I will be making further posts in relation to other elements of The Australia Institute’s submission.

    “But the fact remains that every country out there with a waste stockpile is in a better position to deploy PRISMs (or whatever) than we are”

    That is not necessarily true at all and again, the submission lack sophistication on this matter.

    “In the meantime, we can definitely get 10-15 years of *cheaper* renewable growth…”
    We can and should do that no matter what. There is nothing about engaging with the nuclear opportunity that need conflict with that. It is a distracting and false argument that we face a dichotomy choice between renewables and nuclear. We never have, never will, and the argument is unwelcome. Please refer to my recent interview with Philip Adams where I gave him the same answer. Making people choose between clean energy sources is probably the dumbest thing the world has done on climate change over the last few decades. 4th gen vs renewables? As someone concerned with climate change that strikes me as an absurdly irresponsible statement. Check that argument at the door please.

    “I personally think distributed storage is going knock over the last problem in time to make 90+% renewables doable, but *even if you disagree…”

    Your opinion and mine on that matter are not relevant, the evidence is entirely relevant. What is true about the storage of energy is that in the event that it becomes cost-effective it is as applicable to a nuclear plant as a gas plant as a solar plant. Renewable technologies do not “own” the concept of storing energy.

    “…and at that point, far more cheaply than trying to be among the first off the rank right now”.

    Again, this shows a lack of sophistication and certainly no attention to the submission from Senator Edwards, who seems the main target of your criticism. There is no expectation of building something “cheaply”. You are missing the point. “At that point” we will have become a customer for imports, same as wind turbines and solar technologies. It’s a possible pathway, sure, but it is not an opportunity to secure new industry or growth for the state. Prompt reinvestment of revenues from fuel storage in joining the final steps of commercialisation does present an opportunity and the point is the reactor does not need to be built for a commercially competitive price at the outset if it is part of an integrated recycling project. The electricity can likely be given away. Please see the submission from Senator Edwards. Such an integrate project would set Australia up to build PRISM for export in future, as you recommend.

    “Get IFRs going in, for example, South Korea (whether we help them do it, or not),”

    This is a good example of where research is lacking. South Korea are prevented from doing this by a longstanding international treaty relating to preventing the possibility of war with North Korea. There is no sign of this lifting. This is one of the complexities I was referring to that The Australia Institute submission overlooks. It is discussed in the submission from Senator Edwards.

    Please, before commenting further, download and read the submission from the Office of Senator Sean Edwards in its entirety, including the technical appendices if necessary. Familiarise yourself with what is proposed and the underlying assumptions, which are completely transparent. Then, please do return and query the submission as much and as hard as you like.

    1. Sorry about the slow reply. I’ve been ridiculously flat out.

      I think I can see our point of difference regarding the Chu quote: you seem to think permanent dry cask storage is politically viable. I do not. Far from it. Proposing above-ground storage as the long term solution would be political poison, and if that’s what people have proposed to the RC (which submissions no, I’ve not read, and nor could I have before submissions closed) then I would strongly suggest they’ve put the cause of nuclear power in Australia back a very great deal. From now until the end of time your opponents will say you intend to put the waste in temporary storage and leave it to later generations to clean up our mess.

      Even groups proposing permanent deep burial in Australia are going to get beaten over the head with this “secret” plan to use temporary storage. It is a ferociously unattractive idea.

      This is mostly a political issue – it’s a non-starter – but also technical in a way. Deep burial can at least make it difficult for future idiots to access the waste. With it sitting in storage on the surface, it’s far more accessible to a much wider array of idiots. I can’t think of any countries who have gone 500 years without being invaded, for example…

      Anyway, this is (I think) how we’ve both taken Chu’s words differently. To me, the problem has not been solved and Chu’s words support that. To you, it has been solved, and Chu is talking about rolling temporary storage as a long term solution. I would simply suggest that there is absolutely no chance of any proposal to store waste in permanently-temporary sites ever being politically viable in Australia, and I would also suggest that feed-in countries would have another massively difficult political task convincing their own people that this solution would be ok.

      What might be politically viable – and what I’d think is the smartest way to store spent fuel while folk wait to use it in 4th gen reactors – is a deep geological facility with controlled but easy access to the stored material. That way we preserve access to potentially valuable fuel, but if Australia’s economy tanks, or we get invaded, or there is serious political instability, etc. we can easily and cheaply make it much more difficult to access by back-filling or even just by collapsing the access shafts.

      Storage in 100-year timeframes (however much I admire the design of casks, they will degrade eventually), above ground, is never ever going to be accepted as an intentional plan. It is only endured right now because people (vaguely) think there’s a better way being developed. Tell people that you’re going to keep the waste in those “temporary” stores long-term, and see what the reaction is. It will not be positive, IMO.

  8. A couple of peripheral observations re plutonium and storage
    – neither the UK with ~ 120 tonnes of Pu nor the US with 34 tonnes has committed to the PRISM or any other IFR type reactor. In commercial terms the lead seems to be with the Russians at Beloyarsk.
    – north Queensland may provide a comparison between pumped hydro and battery storage. At Townsville Ergon Energy will lease 12 kwh Sunverge prismatic Li-ion batteries to home owners. The proposed Kidston pumped storage project is supposed to store 1,650 Mwh. I make that equivalent to 1650/0.012 = 137,500 batteries. In neither case do we know the actual costs.

  9. As I understand it, Yucca Mountain didn’t go ahead because local environmentalists and some Nevada residents didn’t want it – largely driven by anti-nuclear sentiment. SA has this opportunity to take advantage of the US’s missed opportunity by building a safe waste storage facility here, with the future opportunity to reprocess and reuse the so-called waste. I hope that similar anti-nuclear sentiment from the likes of “Friends of the Earth” (a possible oxymoron) won’t block this opportunity as so called “environmentalists” did in Nevada.

    1. Sen. Harry Reid (D) was the main problem. Appointed Jazko to the NRC and is the Senator for Nevada, was the democratic leader in the senate too.

      He was happy to accept the toxic waste from the solar factories in California but not the nuclaer waste.

    2. Hi Martin,
      You are correct in why Yucca mountain failed to get the go ahead. It is further evidence of the arrogance, ignorance indeed the stupidity of Green groups around the world. On the issue of world future emissions -free electricity, they have been nothing but a menace. Their opposition to nuclear power has effectively forced much greater coal fired power station build. They’ve done more than anyone to cause the CO2 problem the world apparently now faces. They should be hanging their heads in shame. And you are right to hope that SA has the good sense to build an international nuclear waste repository [in the Officer Basin]. Hopefully Kevin Scarce will hand down in favour of expanding the nuclear industry in SA. If he does, then the waste site is the first thing that we should develop. According to Deloitte Access Economics,[1998 figures], a repository would generate $200billion [probably $300 billion by now] over the 40? year life of the repository with 20,000 infrastructure development jobs, 2,500 operational jobs and $2.3 billion in taxes and royalties paid by user countries. They were the figures I gave in my piece printed in the Adelaide Review in September 2009. Here we are in SA, sitting on the world’s largest uranium reserves and the world’s best high level waste site and the best we can do is mine uranium and make yellowcake for the rest of the world to generate abundant emissions-free electricity. How pathetic is that? And now, we’re going over all of the arguments for and against nuclear power etc that we went through 30 years ago. I remember it all very well. I hope Kevin Scarce gets it right.

  10. In separate time slots on ABC TV last night both a Nobel Prize winner and the CEO of Australia’s largest private employer said that batteries would solve our energy problems. If that is now the fashionable thinking it could stall needed changes for years. Thus if the RC suggests a go-ahead for nuclear next year the leading lights could insist it’s all unnecessary since we have batteries.

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