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What we’re reading: Nuclear vs wind and solar

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Dick Smith plays his nuclear card, again

Dick Smith has spoken up again about his preference for nuclear power, despite the recent initial findings of the nuclear royal commission that the technology is way too expensive for Australia, and the Australian government findings that it’s at least twice the cost of wind and solar.

dick smithSmith, who promoted nuclear in a recent TV series, made his case when arguing against the proposed Mt Emerald wind farm in north Queensland, using the old myth about the need for more “baseload generation”.

We’re going to address the “baseload generation” myth later this week, and why it is the last resort of the coal industry and the nuclear idealists. The main point is that Australia already has about 7,000MW more “baseload” than it needs.

Murdoch media and renewable blackouts!

The Murdoch media continues its campaign against wind and solar, with the Advertiser’s political editor Daniel Wills tweeting last week that the “lights could go out” when the coal-fired power station at Port Augusta is closed in May.

Wills linked to a story he wrote, quoting the head of the SA council of social services, who said that Adelaide suburbs could be blacked out for “weeks at a time” when the coal generator was shut.

No fear-mongering there, then. And obviously no reference to the report by the grid operator, the Australian Energy Market Operator, who said there was no danger to security or reliability from the closure of coal generation.

Coaliton’s ex oil industry energy spokesman utters the predictable

The South Australian opposition party, the Coalition, is maintaining its attack on renewable energy. In the above article, Wills quotes Coalition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan saying that the state government should “stop approving new wind farms” if they were going to threaten supply reliability.

Van Holst Pellekaan has been a long-term critic of renewables. On his own blog, the former BP executive blames wind power for causing surges in power prices, even though this has been dismissed before as a furphy.


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  • phred01

    The only time the sun won’t shine is in a nuclear winter

    • Mark Pawelek

      Nuclear winter is a Luddite myth.

      • neroden

        No, nuclear winter is totally possible. In order to avoid it, we should avoid World War III. Which is probably a good idea anyway, eh?

        It would only last a short period anyway, like the Tambora eruption.

    • neroden

      …or if something like Tambora blows again like it did in

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer

      The Year Without A Summer.

      Would only last a short period, though.

  • Ken Dyer

    I not only subscribe to Renew economy, but also to such electronic publications as World Nuclear News, to obtain a balance. There is a major difference however between the two publications.

    Renew Economy brings stories about the increasing uptake of renewables at lesser cost. WNN, on the other hand, tries to gloss over the glacial pace of the nuclear energy industry, whether it be funding, testing, policies, regulatory requirements, or corporate activities. Actual implementation of nuclear power generation is almost like finding hens teeth.

    Reading between the lines of the WNN publication, it merely illustrates the increasing desperation of the likes of Dick Smith,and the Murdoch Press and even the Liberal Party as they continue to flog the dead nuclear horse.

    • john

      Every Nuclear Power plant has been given a taxpayer guarantee that they will not be responsible for any damage if there is a problem so much for the long term view of this pretty destructive energy source.
      As to the cost of the energy it is not in the least competitive.
      The long term cost makes it hideous.
      The south coast of Australia has very good wind energy sauces why waste it.
      As to the Murdoch Press as represented by Fox News or should I say No News frankly that kind of garbage really gives the industry an ugly look.

    • solarguy

      I can’t work Dick out. His house is solar powered, he even bought a Nissan Leaf and extra PV to charge it. The nuke stance, wtf Dick?

  • DogzOwn

    Would it really do any harm to have the odd blackout here and there? Gold plating of poles and wires was gift to Distributors of $45B. At very occasional peak, wouldn’t it make more sense for anybody who cares to buy petrol gen set, on special at Aldi this week!!!

    • neroden

      Here in upstate NY in the USA we have short blackouts (a few seconds) every week and longer blackouts (several hours) at least once a year, with day-long blackouts every five to ten years.

      We live with it. It’s fine.

  • Mark Pawelek

    I doubt the Royal Commission found nuclear power technology “way too expensive”. It was more a case that the right technology was not yet available for South Australia. SA needs smaller capacity power plants such as small modular reactors, which are designed to be both less expensive and a closer match to SA’s needs. Such small reactors are not yet available but will be in a few years time.

    • The findings were pretty conclusive. They were that nuclear was not viable

      i. on a range of predicted wholesale electricity prices incorporating a range of possible carbon prices

      ii. for both large and potentially new small plant designs

      iii. under current and potentially substantially expanded interconnection capacity to Victoria and NSW

  • neroden

    Not being Australian, I had to Google “furphy”. What a word!