CHOICE membership

Nuclear power


Actually, I have. It’s no surprise that it doesn’t substantiate the assertion in question.

The graph makes certain assumptions. Those are clearly revealed on the graph itself. Different assumptions don’t substantially affect the trends. Costs of nuclear continue to rise, while those of renewables continue to decline.

The vague hand-waving with which the “evidence” was presented implies that the objector didn’t understand the objection. In other words, he hasn’t read the “evidence” himself. He’s probably relying on a third-party source like Brave New Climate. For those who don’t know, that’s a radical nuclear advocacy site that tries to harness climate change to further the cause. Sadly, it isn’t alone.


You’re comments are rife with fallacious and biased reasoning. Until you make a comment that isn’t so obviously biased or attempting to put words in @phbriggs2000 mouth, I don’t have time to pander to your requests. :slight_smile:


We appreciate the passionate discussion happening here. We also request that we all respect each other’s opinions and it’s okay to agree to disagree on some points.


Some more reading here:
Beyond Zero Emissions is an organisation attached to a Melbourne University, composed of professors and engineers, who have produced a well researched plan to transition to 100% renewable energy within 10 years.
It is free to download and read.

There is no need to increase the already problematic business of storing nuclear waste, for 10s of thousands of years.

The Japanese have just given up on that and dumped all the radio active waste from their wrecked nuclear plants in the sea.


Short of hand shaped lumps of flint and stone axes nearly every bit of technology we use has a one way impact on the environment. From cooking and warming by fire to melting and refining high purity silicon for PV panels we consume energy.

Even to harness renewables we use non-renewable resources to harness the potential. Every process has waste and byproducts. Smelting silicon is carbon intensive, nuclear power turns small volumes of originally stable low radioactive fuel into much greater volumes of highly dangerous isotopes and contaminated wastes.

Is it now just a pointless debate as to by which means and in how long it will be before there is no remedy?

Green house gases come from three main sources. Power generation, transport/industry/mining, and agricultural production. Concurrently deforestation is reducing the absorption capacity for CO2, while CH4 emissions have not abated.

Electrical power generation even if we converted existing coal/gas fired plants to nuclear thermal would not end the crisis. The sources of the other approx 2/3rds of the green house gases have no plan and zero targets.

I wonder if we have our priorities aligned with the greatest need?


Non-renewable, perhaps. Non-recyclable? :thinking:

Is that necessarily so? Isn’t waste something that we just haven’t yet figured out how to use? Isn’t a byproduct still a product?

Is that necessarily so? Silica must be reduced to produce silicon. That’s normally done with carbon, but I believe iron can be used instead. Iron can be refined electrically. Given that (IIRC) Australia’s solar resources alone have been estimated (by AEMO, I think) at 10,000 times present demand, we end up with a virtuous circle.

Is that true? I thought the focus on power generation was just because it’s easiest and the biggest single source of carbon dioxide emissions. Wouldn’t generating enough power open up avenues to address other sources of emissions? Electric transport, for example.

We really do need to address the entire range of emissions sources. Got to start somewhere though.


It may be more helpful to consider how we do things to day. The future is yet to arrive!

Currently nearly all the energy used in mining, processing and manufacturing comes from carbon based energy. Many reductants are carbon based or difficult to recylce. We are relying on consumption of these and other sometimes limited resources (eg lithium may be one) to save the future?

True some of the end product can be recylced. Can we get to 100% renewable in a sustainable future without over consuming the things we are trying to remove from the cycle?

The considerations of nuclear energy in this context are unlikely to go away, hence it is a valuable but unappealing option.

It could be different. At present it is not. We may be blind to the total environmental cost of simple things like a PV panel or modern storage battery. Carbon pricing or some other similar tool is needed to genuinely challenge which solutions make us just feel good and which solutions offer substantive net improvements. There is an argument that nuclear power options offer a short term low carbon outcome. Given a choice between life and a future full of nuclear waste risks it would be best that we get there some other way very soon? Suspect the nuclear push will emerge every time we fall behind on soft targets for change by other means?

As an individual target perhaps. I’d just note that we appear to be ignoring the rest of the sources which are in total far greater. These are being measured or estimated and continue in some instances to increase their effect. Ignoring these may make any reductions to carbon from power generation however minor in Australia’s instance pointless. I could agree in some respect with the Abbott on this.

Is it that domestic power generation and consumers are a soft target? Is it that it distracts consumers from the other issues and makes us all feel good? Is it that the consumer is bearing this pain financially while the agricultural industry and business sectors are largely immune from the need to change as things stand today?

Happy for any one to reveal what the current government and international plan and targets are for all these other areas.
Eg Does the Federal Government have a national electric vehicle or truck plan? Does the National party have a zero on farm carbon footprint strategy? Does BHP have a plan to direct smelt iron using carbon captured from CO2 in the atmosphere?
All of these are possible options. I’m still listening. There are number of on again off again moves such as poorly labeled “clean coal” really “not so dirty coal” and nuclear. None of these are strategies or plans and none are liked directly to outcomes in the other areas.

Absolutely - careful as nuclear is also somewhere to start?


Is it best to start with a dead horse or a living one? :wink:

Is nuclear power a start or an end? To many of its proponents, nuclear power seems to be an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.

Surely you jest.


Sometimes it is best to reference a quote in full so that there is context.

It’s heartening to bring humour to others, although in this instance I’d decline the accolade and recognise the Australian Parliament as the true source of the jest!


For context, click the upward-pointing arrow.


Will Nuclear power generation remain a political option?
It may do so for as long as our Parliament fails to achieve real and significant reductions in greenhouse emissions by other means.

For some of us this may be seen as an unacceptable solution. For others it may be a great option.

The challenges of making nuclear less hazardous and solving waste disposal parallel the challenges of making carbon fuels low emissions and these parallel the challenges of finding a low cost long lasting and practicable energy storage system to support renewables.

The best outcome is a win for electrical energy storage as it ensures the end of nuclear or carbon fuel choices.

This alone will only go part way to changing the future. The planet is short carbon sinks. Unless you consider acidification of the oceans acceptable. Agriculture, transport and industry in general are not committed to change or significantly reduce their greenhouse gases.

Nuclear has the benfit of being a known solution that is a low greenhouse gas contributor. Yes it has unacceptable environmental risks by its very nature.


That depends on how the numbers are run:
“Far from coming in at 6 grams of CO2 per unit of electricity for Hinkley Point, as the Climate Change Committee believes, the true figure is probably well above 50 grams – breaching the Committee on Climate Change’s recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.”

“… half of the most rigorous published analyses have a carbon footprint for nuclear power above the limit recommended by the UK government’s official climate change advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

Lots more there that I haven’t yet had a chance to read.


All very informative. Both sources have an absolute position on the future of nuclear power. It’s possible there is bias or cherry picking on both sides. The EU is considering a project in GB with lifetime CO2 of 6gm/kWh as an outcome of a new nuclear plant.

This may be reliable, it may not. It may not matter what the figure actually is. It may be more than the GB target of less than 50gm/kWh. There are plenty of sources including PV manufacturers who suggest their life cycle outcomes are also greater than 50gm/kWh. Battery production is currently also not low carbon by this standard.

If the alternatives of better and more planet friendly energy sources, mining, industrial and agricultural production are not developed fast enough what are the foreseeable political realities?
Faced with a nuclear future or carbon driven Armageddon which way will we jump?
The possibility of a nuclear powered future can be presented as a real solution or as an incentive to do something else very soon.

For that reason does it not deserve a place in any debate about future energy sources if only to keep us focussed on the need to act?

My personal doubts are that we have insufficient global resources using current thinking and technology to transition fast enough or far enough without other options including nuclear becoming necessary. A ban on Uber’s and all forms of personal transport with 100% work by NBN future is just as scary.

In this context understanding the nuclear deliverables better remains very relevant.


Are those our alternatives? That’s what Brave New Climate and the like would have us believe.

That, I guess, is where we differ. I wonder how anybody can still take nuclear power seriously.

Again, we differ. We need only get on with it.
Edit 2:
Just noticed that the (then new) CEO of AEMO used the same words:

We just need to keep building the orchestra.

End edit 2

Edit 1:

You’ll need to link to your sources.

End edit 1


Irrespective of how anyone views the risks or advantages of nuclear power generation, John’s prior comments remain relevant.

The longer the delays in more substantive actions towards reducing greenhouse emissions the fewer the options. It should be noted John stated his concerns were motivated by the cost of electricity, a very different but now intertwined debate.


If your issue is global warming then, to quote from one of the links above:
This report asks two questions: how dangerous is nuclear power? And can it help reduce CO2 emissions? … For the second question the answer is ‘not enough and not in time’.

If cost is the issue then is the technology whose costs keep rising (not to mention build times) a rational choice?


I think the more progressive states will continue to move in a carbon reduced direction.
This is evidenced by SA which previously has move strongly this way and now Victoria will massively increase solar rooftop density. Eventually most states will do similar actions and the federal coalition government’s inability to resolve a energy policy that is acceptable to most Australians and also their ‘coal loving’ right wing of the party will be actually redundant in the lower carbon economy of the future.


It isn’t quite that easy. Yes, SA has one of the highest rates of renewable generation in the world, but currently relies on flows from and though Victoria, predominately from non-renewable sources. The significant whole of state network outage a few years ago was not because of the renewable generation capacity of SA, but the loss of support from the interconnector (the interconnector had a forced outage to protect the remainder of the national network - to prevent a domino effect).

This is also the same for many European countries and US states like California which also have high renewable generation. These countries and states are connected to their neighbours and relay on generation support from their neighbours and this generation support is non-renewable and comes principally from coal, gas or nuclear.

Solar on ones roof may feel good, but is is one of the least efficient ways of generating electricity. The existing distribution and transmission networks have traditionally been designed as a one one flow system…the voltage is transformed down the lower down in the network one gets. It has not been designed for reverse transformation.

States doing their own thing without regard to the operation of the whole of the network is a recipe for problems, which already have started to emerge and have made the system less reliable and able to meet forecast future demands (this is evidenced by the SA government placing diesel gensets in high demand areas to support the capacity on that part of the network). These are bandaid solutions to an underlying problem.

The above is particularly why a national (well, east coast states of Qld - NSW-VIC-SA-Tas) which are interconnected and rely on support from time to time (or more than that in the case of SA).

The resolution is far beyond any information or views of one, and needs a holistic approach if we wish to continue to have a cost effective, reliable supply moving forward, while potentially reducing reliance on non-renewable generation sources.


Is there a new topic out of this, or an an alternate one that ties the cost of electricity, discussion of the neg, small scale household solar etc into one that tries to unravel the alternatives for future power, low environmental cost and the impacts of each option on the consumer?

It’s possible to build new coal, or upgrade existing coal generation, build nuclear or convert existing coal to glow in the dark fuel, even convert coal generation quite rapidly to gas fired boilers (halves carbon) as well as power from lower carbon solutions.

Do the options and costs of large scale or small scale energy storage need to be considered? More pumped storage capacity for Australia may need to put agriculture on a diet of a very low water future as we will need the storage volumes for power. Do we understand how disruptive changes may be to the status quo and grid designs?

Given our State Govts and the Federal Govt can’t even get into the starting blocks how can Choice seek to influence progress?

Given the current governement is blindly telling all consumers that we are asking for lower power costs is that correct? Perhaps there is a Choice campaign in using a membership survey to send a different response?

The discussion might also need to consider what percentage of our total Australian energy usage (carbon footprint) goes to domestic electrical power usage. It appears to be approx 11% of the total, which leaves 89% still to address.

The alternative is that we just leave it to Canberra to fix? And we really just want cheaper power from any solution.

Resticting gas exports, and using our genuinely low cost lower carbon gas as fuel across the board is a great way to get quick low cost improvements to our carbon footprint? Saves importing expensive diesel and petrol if we convert transport usage!


There has been a seemingly-unending stream of reports. The latest that I know of is the Integrated System Plan:

The problem seems to be that the government never got the results that it wanted, so it kept calling for more reports hoping for a more ideologically-agreeable outcome.