Power Games: Why Nuclear Is Not Right For Australia

Australians should assume the need for extraordinary taxpayer subsidies, likely in the tens of billions of dollars, if a decision is made to pursue nuclear power.

A detailed new critique of nuclear energy, released today by the Australian Conservation Foundation, reveals:

  • Australian taxpayers would foot a massive bill, likely in the tens of billions of dollars, for what is the slowest, most expensive form of power generation.
  • Many of Australia’s leading insurance companies will not cover damage from a nuclear disaster.
  • Even if legal prohibitions on nuclear were lifted in Australia, a nuclear power reactor could only begin operating around the mid-2040s and could only begin to contribute to reducing greenhouse emissions around 2050.

ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said going nuclear would delay the transition to clean energy, increase household electricity bills, introduce the possibility of catastrophic accidents and create multi-generational risks associated with the management of high-level nuclear waste.

“There’s no chance a nuclear power station could be built in Australia before the mid-2040s, so if you’re promoting nuclear, you are prolonging the use of fossil fuels,” she said.

“Major solar and wind projects can be conceived, constructed and connected much quicker.

“When it comes to the cost, CSIRO modelling shows nuclear power is five to ten times more expensive to generate than solar or wind power.

“Be in no doubt, that extra costs of nuclear would be passed on to electricity users.

“Nuclear is an energy source the market doesn’t want. The big electricity utilities are not interested, nor are most private investors, so nuclear would require huge public subsidies.

“Nuclear reactors use tonnes of water every second to cool the reactors to produce electricity, unlike wind and solar, which require little or no water to generate power.

“Australians don’t need or want to take on the massive risks that accompany nuclear energy – catastrophic meltdowns like Chernobyl and Fukushima, plus the intergenerational danger of storing high-level radioactive waste for centuries, with a likely disproportionate burden on First Nations communities and country.

“We cannot afford to squander more time in moving our economy away from its reliance on climate-damaging coal and gas. Nuclear is a dangerous distraction to effective climate action.

“Australia is blessed with amazing clean energy resources. On environmental and economic grounds, our energy future is renewable, not radioactive.”

/Public Release. View in full here.