The case for an SMR based energy park at Ceduna.

As Adelaide gardens (and residents…) wilt in the first full-blown heat wave of the summer, here is a timely post from John Newlands to kick of the Decarbonise SA Summer Edition. In this post, John makes the case for a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) led development of nuclear in South Australia, beginning in Ceduna. As you will read, John has an eye on the limits SA is likely to be facing in water, and also gas and coal. It’s refreshing to read from someone who realises nuclear power has the potential to improve, not diminish, our water security. 

Should I be concerned that I feel John’s post presents more convincing forward thought about the industrial and ecological future of our state and nation that I have heard from any politicians in quite some time?

The case for an SMR based energy park at Ceduna.

Some believe the world is influenced by ‘ley lines’ that bring together natural forces and indeed are used as a navigation aid by intergalactic visitors.  In a similar vein I’d argue that Ceduna on the Great Australian Bight perhaps inevitably will become a point of convergence of several key material and energy flows with their associated political undercurrents.

What about water?

“Nuclear power would not be worse for our water security than coal. It would be approximately neutral, because the consumption is basically the same. But might it actually be better?”

This post is inspired by a message that got back to me from my Mum, that a relative of mine (who shall remain nameless. Hi Auntie Jackie!) will “never agree with me because nuclear power plants use so much water”.

It’s an important point. In Australia, we can never take water for granted. The most recent and very severe drought pushed water supplies to the brink around the country. Investing heavily in a new power source that would stretch those supplies even more would seem a risky thing to do.

So this question is worth examining. In the mix of Australian energy generation, would nuclear power be:

  • Better for our water security?
  • Worse for our water security?
  • Neutral for our water security?

I’m going to answer that question by comparing it with coal fired power generation, which is the most prevalent form of generation in Australia, and the form I want to displace quickly with nuclear power.