As the shift away from fossil fuels gathers pace, the Coalition has turned to an emissions-free technology with a long and contentious history — nuclear fission. These are the numbers you should keep in mind when thinking about its place in Australia’s energy transition.

I encourage you to at least glance through the article before you leave a comment that other commenters will dunk on you for.

  • BadlyDrawnRhino
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    8 days ago

    I think those quotes at the bottom are a really great summary of the problem with the Coalition’s nuclear plan:

    “As I said, from an engineering point of view nuclear power is an excellent form of energy,” Dr Finkel said.

    “What we can’t do is say, ‘Oh, nuclear is easy, therefore let’s stop all the wind and jump on to nuclear.’

    “It just can’t possibly happen in the time-frame that we need. But that doesn’t mean we should rule it out because there’s that long term benefit.”

    I could see the merits of beginning to invest in nuclear now, given the time required to get it up and running, but only so long as the shift to renewables isn’t interrupted. Unfortunately, I think the LNP see this as a way to seem like they give a shit about climate change, but really it’s just a way to buy them another decade or two to line their pockets with coal.

    • zik
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      8 days ago

      Nuclear power’s already much more expensive than every other mainstream option, and the gap is widening every year. In twenty years time it’s going to be so much more expensive it’ll be ridiculous. No one’s going to want to buy power for several times the cost of all the other options.

      The idea’s not only dumb - it’s completely commercially unviable.

      • psud
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        7 days ago

        Remember it’s not really about building nuclear, it’s about promising nuclear in a short enough timeframe to prevent investment in renewables, and then keeping the date moving steadily into the future until maybe 20 years later a reactor is built. It’s about giving 20 more years to coal (and coal has the most radioactive exhaust of any power generation technology)

      • ⸻ Ban DHMO 🇦🇺 ⸻M
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        7 days ago

        The idea’s not only dumb - it’s completely commercially unviable

        But I thought they were supposed to be good economic managers

    • LovesTha🥧@floss.social
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      8 days ago

      @BadlyDrawnRhino @MHLoppy Yeah, investing in nuclear is okay, but only in addition to adequately funding the faster to market options.

      But as we apparently don’t have the money do invest in enough cheaper and faster options we clearly don’t have the money for nuclear.

      And governments shouldn’t be subsidising distractions.

    • zurohki
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      8 days ago

      Are there merits to investing in nuclear now?

      A nuclear plant would take the best part of 20 years to build and has at least a 40 year lifespan. It’d be competing not against today’s solar and batteries but against 2040’s solar and batteries on day one. And it’d need to be profitable until 2070.

      It would have been great to have invested in nuclear in the 80s, but we didn’t. Like hydrogen cars, it could have been great but we’ve moved past it already.

      • psud
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        7 days ago

        Nuclear is difficult in Australia because of our low population. I agree it would have been nice to have some 40 year old reactors now (Lucas Heights doesn’t count as it isn’t a power reactor) but we don’t because we don’t and didn’t have the population to support enough reactors for maintenance of one to not cripple the grid until small reactors were invented recently

    • Weirdmusic@lemmy.world
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      8 days ago

      The time to invest in nuclear was ten years ago which (checks diary) was right about the time the last coalition government was in power and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Now they’re attempting to upend the inevitable transition to renewables by sprouting bullshit about nuclear.

      Let me be clear: there are compelling reasons to go nuclear but the time and cost mean that this option is largely moot.

  • psud
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    8 days ago

    I’m sure I have also heard on radio national that Australia would have a lot of trouble running on nuclear because we only have ~26 million people.

    We could only support about two or three normal sized reactors with our power usage

    If we only had three, taking one down for months for maintenance would knock out a third of our supply, half if we had only two

    We really would want to use small reactors and have dozens of them, but they’re even more expensive, and we probably couldn’t support the expertise to run them due to the small population

    Solar and wind and batteries is cheaper. Solar and wind and pumped hydro is cheaper.

    It looks like the largest effect of an attempt to go nuclear would be to extend the lives of coal plants under a promise that the new reactors are only five years away for the next two decades

    • dillekant@slrpnk.net
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      7 days ago

      You also can’t just turn nuclear on or off. You’d need to also get rid of existing solar. Ie: get people to disconnect rooftop solar to make nuclear work.

      • psud
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        If you told people they weren’t allowed to export solar anymore, so many would disconnect from the electricity grid, starting the grid death spiral where wealthy individual subscribers unsubscribe, poorer people get higher bills and it gets relatively cheaper to get solar and go off the grid, etc

        You end up with only the poorest buying electricity with government or charity money and industry using the grid

        That would be really bad for nuclear, losing the bulk of the home market

    • Norah - She/They@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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      8 days ago

      …pumped hydro is cheaper.

      It might be cheaper financially, but we’ve known about the huge environmental cost of dams for decades now. It boggles my mind that people suggest it in the same sentence as renewables.

      Let alone that the immediate risk to life and property if a dam bursts can be similar to that of a nuclear meltdown.

      • psud
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        7 days ago

        We are talking in the Australian context where the dams were built in the '50s for hydro power.

          • Zagorath
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            7 days ago

            because of their huge risk of catastrophe

            Dams help prevent natural disasters. Preventing flooding is famously why the Aswan High Dam was built in Egypt, and the presence of flood-managed dams in SEQ is possibly one of the reasons we were affected so much less badly here in 2022 than Northern NSW, where the dams are comparatively small, ungated, and have no active management during flood conditions.

            I agree that dams are not great ecologically and we should avoid building them, especially given how incredibly useful solar and wind power are (though wind has its own ecological problems). But it’s not especially useful to say that they have a “huge risk of catastrophe”.

            • psud
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              4 days ago

              There are a class of American privately owned dams that recently got press for being at risk of catastrophe. I think that’s what informed that lemming

          • psud
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            7 days ago

            Just take them down? With what people paid with what money? Keep in mind that these dams are our best black start capability, that they have important use

      • ⸻ Ban DHMO 🇦🇺 ⸻M
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        7 days ago

        Though I wonder what the environmental impacts are of mining Lithium to produce batteries on massive scales vs pumped hydro batteries to support solar whens it’s dark or not very windy. There’s plenty of other options as well like an elevator battery thing, but pumped hydro is probably more cost effective and safer to run as it’s something we already know how to operate locally, the impact will just need to be managed.

      • dillekant@slrpnk.net
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        7 days ago

        Pumped hydro is not exactly a dam. There’s a hole and 2 water reservoirs. Yes there’s a cost but so does anything.