Peter Dutton’s nuclear rave and the reality of nuclear power

Image from The Australian

Contributed by Jim Hayes

Australia’s premier scientific research organisation the CSIRO has published a document saying that the nuclear energy option for Australia is too expensive. It says the bill for construction would be cost more than $27 billion. A single plant would cost could easily be double the $8.6 billion cost claimed. Construction on the suggested smaller slightly cleaner and smaller nuclear plants will not begin until at least 2040. Australia can’t wait so long for an alternative to fossil fuel-based energy.

The CSIRO has also produced evidence that the cost of nuclear energy would be higher than that for alternatives. This would be between $230 and $382 per MWh in 2030. This is much higher than solar, or wind generated electricity, which range between $73 and $128 per MWh.

Disregarding evidence like this, Liberal Party leader continues to spruik his obsession with the nuclear power option.

Even if the cost and timeline factors weren’t present, there is deep disquiet across Australian society over the dangers of nuclear waste and the obvious military connection with high grade plutonium. The nuclear option remains deeply unpopular.

Why then, is Dutton pressing on? There are two conceivable reasons.

The most obvious and immediate one is that despite promoting nuclear energy as green, the simple truth is that it deflects the debate and allows the coal and gas fired industry to continue. This is the result when no alternative is offered for the time before construction. Perhaps this explains why the present Labor government is so shy about taking a stronger stand on this issue. After all, it too is sympathetic to the fossil fuel industry.

Secondly, there a strengthening of the military integration of Australia into the military of the United Sates is underway. Peter Dutton has recently put forward that Australia should become a destination for United States radioactive waste, and this is made easier with a nuclear industry and related infrastructure in place.

Peter Dutton pushes ahead with nuclear agenda

Video from the ABC

For its part, Labor signed up with the AUKUS nuclear powered submarine deal, and Dutton suggested knows that this comes with dealing with nuclear waste. Add signing up to increase overall United Staters military personnel and supplies on Australian soil. The existence of nuclear power plants would ease this transition.

The difficulty with creating a nuclear industry in Australia is how unpopular it is. Dutton’s in your face approach has hit a brick wall and pushing him further away from electoral victory and generating considerable opposition even within his political party and its pollical base. His hold on the leadership is being weakened by it.

His nuclear card is still playing the role of softening up the population towards eventual acceptance. If successful, it may provide a path towards Labor eventually embracing the nuclear road.

Nobody operates in a vacuum. Australians opposing the nuclear path have the capacity to put a stop to it.

1 Comment on "Peter Dutton’s nuclear rave and the reality of nuclear power"

  1. The cynic in me says that an Australian Government could build several nuclear powerplants with the $368 Billion destined for AUKUS and provide free energy for the life of the plants and still have change left over. In reality neither of the major parties will wholeheartedly embrace renewables until the climate change horse has bolted. Very sad!

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