Memo Coalition: If you want to talk nuclear, talk about its costs | RenewEconomy

Memo Coalition: If you want to talk nuclear, talk about its costs

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Abbott govt again flags nuclear power as ‘obvious’ replacement for coal – without mentioning the one thing that should kill the idea in its tracks.

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The Australian Coalition government is at it again – raising nuclear power as a potential replacement for coal fired generation without mentioning the one thing that should kill the idea in its tracks, its stratospheric costs.

Julie Bishop, in an interview with Fairfax Media, raised nuclear as an option before heading off to the Lima climate change talks. “It’s an obvious conclusion that if you want to bring down your greenhouse gas emissions dramatically you have to embrace a form of low or zero-emissions energy and that’s nuclear, the only known 24/7 baseload power supply with zero emissions,” she said.

Julie Bishop with PM Tony Abbott

It is not the first time the government of Tony Abbott has raised nuclear. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is a big fan, and intends to look at it in the energy white paper.  As we wrote in August in our article “It’s time for Abbott to dump secret nuclear ambitions,” Abbott is surrounded by pro-nuclear advisers who seem ignorant of the opportunity in renewable energy. Hence the government’s position on the RET.

Bishop says she wants Australia to have a “sensible debate” about nuclear, but what they – and the pro-nuclear advocates – never mention is cost. In developed economies, with liberalised markets, it is astronomical.

The UK, which has nuclear and where the issue is not controversial, the proposed 3.2GW Hinkley C reactor – the first new reactor in 20 years – is proving just how expensive it is. It is suffering huge delays, and may still not be built, and the cost is blowing out all the time – so far it is five times the estimate cost in 2008.

As the EU noted in its investigation into the massive government subsidies needed to support the project, the total total will come to some $45 billion.  The construction risk, the insurance risk, the production risk and the financing risk all have to be assumed by the government, because no private company will risk their own balance sheet.

Even the International Energy Agency, in its recent world outlook, lamented the problem facing nuclear – economic uncompetitiveness, lack of public confidence, massive subsidy reliance, changing government policy, and “financing in liberalised markets,” not to mention the approaching closure of old facilities, which have yet to be costed. That’s why it paints scenarios that do not include nuclear, or the even more expensive carbon carbon and storage.

In western economies, such as Australia, financing is the key for nuclear. But it is a point that is repeatedly ignored. In a recent presentation to the Peabody Coal-sponsored energy seminar in the lead up to the G20 meeting in Brisbane, for instance, nuclear cheerleader Ben Heard blamed everyone from lefties to greenies for the current state of the nuclear industry.

But it is the other end of town that won’t support it and is crippling its deployment. Bankers, insurers and project developers simply don’t want to bear the risk of something going wrong, however remote the possibility. When the India government last year toyed with the idea of not accepting construction risk at nuclear plants, General Electric, the biggest industrial company in the world, said it would pack up and leave. It wasn’t about to accept construction risk for the plants it builds either. GE recently pulled the plug on laser nuclear enrichment technology research which badly impacted Australia’s Silex Systems.

India’s energy minister Piyush Goyal said last month the government was growing cautious about nuclear, noting that the US and many European nations have stopped setting up nuclear plants. “This government would like to be cautious so that we are not saddled with something only under the garb of clean energy or alternate energy; something which the West has discarded and is sought to be brought to India,” he said.

As the influential paper, the Hindu, later noted.

The key fact about nuclear power is that it is the world’s most subsidy-fattened energy industry, even as it generates the most dangerous wastes whose safe disposal saddles future generations. Commercial reactors have been in operation for more than half-a-century, yet the industry still cannot stand on its own feet without major state support. Instead of the cost of nuclear power declining with the technology’s maturation — as is the case with other sources of energy — the costs have escalated multiple times.

Heard, meanwhile, did the usual pro-nuclear thing of attacking renewables – criticising their “intermittency” a disingenuous meme we hear often in the government and conservative commentariat. Heard, for instance, argued that wind farms take up too much space – omitting to note that the land can and is used for grazing, crops and other farming activities.

Heard then declared himself to be a “supporter “of solar, and then took a pot-shot at the new Ivanpah solar tower plant, a first of its kind technology – quoting stories that it had failed to meet its production targets.  But the target quoted is the production goal for 2018. Ivanpah has only been running for nine months, and it has spent the first year calibrating the technology which is being at this scale for the first time. It is actually running ahead of its targets, as we reported here.

And then Heard tried to dismiss claims that solar and wind have cheaper levellised cost of energy (LCOEs) than other “base load” fuel sources, by claiming that these costs do not include cost of grids and grid integration.

But neither do the other technologies. And in Heard’s own state, the South Australian grid is now powered 40 per cent by wind and solar without the need for any new back-up or grid integration at all.

Contrast that with Hinkley C, where National Grid says the need for new back-up will cost £160m a year ($A300 million), or more than $A12 billion over the 40 year life of the plant. That is over and above the $45 billion upfront cost, and doesn’t take into account the decommissioning costs, or the waste disposal. Indeed, since 2008, the projected cost of the plant has risen five-fold, and its builders – who said they would be powering electric ovens to cook Christmas turkeys in 2018, now don’t mention a start up date.

The costs of Hinkley, even heavily subsidised in a country with a well established industry,  will lock in a price of £92.50/MWh, or $A170/MWh, indexed to inflation.  Thankfully, this has caused the Australian government forecaster, BREE, to include a more sober assessment of nuclear’s costs – even without decommissions and waste disposal, or a real grip on cost of capital – that the government pro-nuclear advocates choose to ignore in their rush to demonise renewables.

As for France, well that nuclear bubble is well and truly punctured. France pays a lower rate per kilowatt hour than other countries, because the capital cost of the nuclear plants was written off by the government decades ago. But French consumers face similar electricity bills to those in Germany because the nuclear plants have to run all the time, so there has been no investment in energy efficiency.

Now, though, the French have got a major problem. They are not economically as strong as they were in the 1970s, and they simply cannot afford the capital cost of building new nuclear plants. Even the capital cost of maintaining the current fleet will be higher than the capital cost of building them in the first place.

This prompted energy minister Segolene Royal to point out that it would be cheaper to build wind and solar than to maintain the nuclear fleet. Which is what they are doing, and why they are seeking to wind back the share of nuclear to 50 per cent from 75 per cent, because all the new capacity will come from renewables.

In France, at least, costs and practicality are finally winning over ideology. Australia needs to realise that too. The need for base load power is something of a myth. With the plunging cost of solar and other renewables and now storage, flexibility is the key.

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  1. DogzOwn 6 years ago

    Is it acceptable, or not, for political leaders to claim “belief” in effectiveness of things like nukes, when there’s no evidence to support cut belief? Don’t we need an appeal body, equivalent to Press Council, to determine if important belief is nonsense, in which case Julie should apologise for trying to mislead public opinion?

    • Mark Duffett 6 years ago

      Parkinson’s half truths notwithstanding, the decarbonisation effectiveness of nuclear is not a matter of belief, it’s a simple fact. France did it. No other combination of technologies (beyond the special and largely non-expandable geographic circumstances that allow hydro and natural geothermal) can say the same, not even close.

      • Harry Verberne 6 years ago

        How about you presenting some evidence of your own ? Allegations of “half-truths” are just that, allegations, until they are substantiated.

        • Mark Duffett 6 years ago

          Hmmm, where to start. SA ‘no new grid integration’ is a straw man, the main point is it’s complete reliance on existing NEM integration that makes high wind penetration rates possible. In this context SA as an entity is pretty irrelevant, the more pertinent metric is wind across the whole NEM. The strike price for Hinkley is actually less than the equivalent for wind and solar in the UK. Rumours of the death of baseload have been greatly exaggerated ( And I can’t decide whether putting “intermittency” in scare quotes is Orwellian or just ludicrous.

  2. michael 6 years ago

    surely the cost isn’t important due to it’s extremely low carbon footprint. This is a moral issue and a habitability of the planet issue, higher costs should just be borne by the general population until such time as technological advances or new financing models render it competitive

    I think it was the IPCC that put nuclear at about 1/3 the lifecycle carbon intensity of solar PV

    • Steve159 6 years ago

      See above:

      “Australia is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. There’s so much
      sun, there’s so much wind off the coast .

      “We are right now on the cusp of a third industrial revolution.”

      “We have enough of these renewable energies distributed in every square
      inch of Australia and the world to power our species needs till kingdom
      comes, at near zero marginal cost, without pollution to the planet.

      So what kind of cock-a-maimy thinking, if I may say this, keeps us in
      these old polluting dinosaur energies and technologies of the 20th
      century, when we could be in the new energies of the 21st century and
      have unlimited amounts of renewable energy.” (Jeremy Rifkin)

  3. Petra Liverani 6 years ago

    It’s so frustrating that articles like this don’t get published in the mainstream media.

  4. Douglas Hynd 6 years ago

    The issue of cost is minimising the cost to a low carbon footprint economy – nuclear doesn’t cut the mustard – we have cheaper quicker ways to get there.

  5. AtomicSprings 6 years ago

    Ben has science and maths on his side so I will back his view of the world.
    Anyone that claims nuclear is not economic or won’t find investors should have no concerns about a Government undertaking a detailed examination of nuclear alongside renewables to lower GHG emissions or the removal of legislative barriers. After all if you are so certain that nuclear is not economic why would you fear any discussion on this topic or letting the market decide for itself?
    Giles does not intend to inform his audience but a runs a consistent campaign of confusing his audience by inserting three other words whenever he mentions nuclear:
    – climate change deniers
    – anti-renewables
    – anti-efficiency
    Yet if you asked the majority of nuclear supporters they would say they are motivated by climate change, and support renewables and energy efficiency for a simple reason that they just want a low cost energy mix that won’t destroy the environment.

    • RobS 6 years ago

      Yeh I can’t think of any reason why people would be worried about this governments ability to conduct a free, open and honest investigation into an issue and come out with an honest conclusion untainted by ideology. I mean they’ve been so open and honest about their policies so far so why wouldn’t we trust them on this one?

      • AtomicSprings 6 years ago

        Fair comment RET review was very poor attempt to consider the issue objectively. How about a Garnaut or AEMO review of nuclear & renewables mix to lower GHGs?

        I also think the Libs have more to lose than Labour from considering nuclear as it will upset the fossil fuel interests. Furthermore it will only work if nuclear and climate change action receives bipartisan support. Maybe they can agree to 50% renewable target in exchange for removing legislation preventing nuclear?

    • Steve159 6 years ago

      The pertinent and really, the only question worth asking is “what do you want?”

      A nuclear powered future, with all that entails?

      OR, a renewable-energy powered future?

      Here’s the thing. If the latter we need only focus, invest and work towards that future and we will achieve it.

      As Rifkin pointed out on the ABC 4Corners program,

      “Australia is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. There’s so much
      sun, there’s so much wind off the coast .

      “We are right now on the cusp of a third industrial revolution.”

      “We have enough of these renewable energies distributed in every square
      inch of Australia and the world to power our species needs till kingdom
      comes, at near zero marginal cost, without pollution to the planet.

      So what kind of cock-a-maimy thinking, if I may say this, keeps us in
      these old polluting dinosaur energies and technologies of the 20th
      century, when we could be in the new energies of the 21st century and
      have unlimited amounts of renewable energy.”


      • AtomicSprings 6 years ago

        What I want is not to leave a climate change mess for my kids or any other kids to inherit. So if renewables are able to achieve that alone it would be fantastic. I am risk averse though and won’t diminish the chances of success by removing any other technology like nuclear.

        What matters is the outcome not the technology. Remember renewables and nuclear are all just different configurations of concrete, steel and cement that displace natural habitats. You shouldn’t have an emotional connection to any of them, just the environment that is impacted by them.

        • Steve159 6 years ago

          Risk averse?

          Fukushima, Chernobyl

          I don’t know if those affected by these events would subscribe to be labelled “emotional”

          which brings us back to “So what kind of cock-a-maimy thinking …”

          • AtomicSprings 6 years ago

            How about you demand the same scientific process you expect from climate change scientists when identifying the most appropriate energy mix. For instance nuclear has one of the lowest deaths per kWh (this is a fact accepted by all governments and experts not an opinion) – so if you are risk averse why wouldn’t you consider this option?

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            I’m not risk averse, as you admit to being. I’m creative-first, which involves what “outsiders” consider risk, but the creative process gets results.

            See above, re “disingenuous”

          • Mike Dill 6 years ago

            Yes, Nuclear has a low death per KWH. That was not the issue here, Coal has a MUCH higher death rate. I do not know where Renewables are on that spectrum, but I suspect thay are very near the bottom.

            The issue we had been debating is COST. it has already been proven that Solar and Wind are less expensive, but intermittent.The question then becomes what other costs are there? For renewables storage might be one piece, but there are dispatchable renewables as well.

            The costs for retiring a wind farm or solar farm are relatively low. This is not true for Nuclear.

          • Chris Murray 6 years ago

            Trouble is, when a nuclear plant blows up, it can lead to tens of thousands of cancer deaths eg Chernobyl. The chances of major accidents may be small, but there have been three or four so far, and many people, perfectly rationally, just do not want to have such a plant anywhere near them.
            The horrendous death toll from coal plants can be relatively quickly and cost-effectively reduced by 98% through retrofitting scrubbers, which is probably a more efficient partial solution than wasting trillions on nuclear fantasies, and both wind and solar have lower death rates per unit of power output than nuclear.

          • Rod Adams 6 years ago

            Chris Murray Trouble is, that your statement about Chernobyl’s death toll is a complete fabrication. The accident’s results have been widely and thoroughly studied and documented in a massive report by responsible international agencies.

            Here is the link to the report.

            You will find that it tallies approximately 50 deaths — as of 2006 — that can be attributed to the accident. The calculated cancer deaths are mere statistical projections and stated as a maximum “up to 4,000” where the range of additional cancer deaths in the exposed population is actually a number starting from a bit less than zero up to that maximum number.

            (Many studies of people exposed to low levels of radiation have shown a lower cancer mortality rate than a control population. That is why I say the number starts at something less than zero.)

          • Chris Murray 6 years ago

            UNSCEAR does not dismiss the risks as “mere statistical projections” (Is Climate Change science now to be dismissed as “mere statistical projections”?). Following your own link to Annex D shows that UNSCEAR actually admits that “Although the numbers of cancers projected to be induced by radiation exposure from the accident are very small relative to the baseline cancer risk, THEY COULD POTENTIALLY BE SUBSTANTIAL IN ABSOLUTE TERMS” (Paragraph D274. My emphasis – even a “very small” increase of say, 0.5%, in baseline risk would cause, say, 10,000 extra cancers in a 10 million population, assuming normal cancer mortality of 20% of all deaths).

            The UNSCEAR estimate of 4,000 possible cancer deaths is for the most contaminated areas of Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine alone. The harm is unlikely to stop there. UNSCEAR has not provided any estimate outside those areas, citing uncertainties (which could decrease or increase the risks). This does not mean, as some imply, that UNSCEAR is claiming zero risk outside these areas.

            The WHO and the Chernobyl Forum (of which UNSCEAR was a member) are also “responsible international agencies”. They estimated a possible further 5,000 fatal cancers in the surrounding areas, giving a possible Chernobyl total cancer mortality of 9,000. Is this also a “complete fabrication”? And since neither the WHO nor UNSCEAR currently use the Dose and Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor (a divisor) of 2 previously used, these numbers could legitimately be doubled.

            ExternE and ENSAD, often quoted by the pro-nuclear movement, are also responsible international agencies, and they, far from dismissing the risks altogether, as some do, estimate a possible 10,000 – 50,000 fatal cancers. Are their reports “complete fabrications”?

            (ExternE Externalities of Energy Methodology 2005 Update
            Edited by Peter Bickel and Rainer Friedrich Page 205 Figure 9.4)

            In its 2006 BEIR VII Report, the US National Academy of Sciences, another widely respected and responsible agency, has examined the reports claiming beneficial effects from low level radiation, and rejected them.

          • Chris Murray 6 years ago


            The ExternE and ENSAD figures should be 10,000 – 32,000, not 10,000 – 50,000. My apologies. As I explained above, however, these figures could now legitimately be doubled to allow for no DDREF.

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            In 1962 the AEC reported to JFK that all civilian nuclear power should be based upon the ORNL Molten Salt Reactor it was invented by the patent holder for the PWR, he wanted a walk away safe, more efficient fuel burn and energy capture reactor that was low pressure. The test reactor needs no pressure dome as it can’t blow up, melt down and it uses a passive drain freeze plug that drains the fuel into safety tanks. So no chance of any disaster with this design and it burns used nuclear fuel that has 99% of its useful fuel left to burn.

            Green energy’s waste stream of rare earth elements tosses away yearly enough of the super fuel thorium that can power the entire planet without additional mining. Add this fact that Google has now realized that renewables can’t save the planet from climate change and Germany has to build coal plants to make up for nuclear as their renewable base isn’t working for them. It is time to wake up to clean, safe nuclear.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            So Walter, what you’re saying is that it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to build a renewable-energy powered future? That we MUST have a power source that leaves dangerous waste for hundreds or thousands of years, even if at 1% or 0.1% — who cares, why have it at all.

            What you’re saying is that in the time it will take to build a nuclear plant (20+ years) the advances in solar and wind WON’T be so significant as to cut power prices to well below the current low price of 6c/kWh?


            What you’re saying is that we absolutely can’t build a massive PV solar farm in the middle of the desert, suck in sea-water and pump out “solar gas” sufficient to give base load power to not just Australia but the whole planet?

            Like Jeremy Rifkin said, “what kind of cock-a-maimy thinking” is that?

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            Yes Steve, wind blows as a solid resource they are disruptive to the grid

            It takes 115,000 acres of windmills to equal the nameplate power of a reactor, add to the fact the wind mills are at best about 17% Effiecient you have a bir fail. It isn’t very green to industrialize the countryside with bird blenders and solar cookers that kill tens of thousands of birds a year. The Google plant in the desert is only putting out 1/3 of the power it was expected to produce…thus Google who has a few billion invested is backing out of all renewable.

            The toxic waste of green manufacturing is chocking China and the waste issue is resolved by the MSR…you really need to know what you are talking about.


          • Steve159 6 years ago


            “wind blows as a solid resource they are disruptive to the grid”

            Not according to Stanford University — enough wind turbines results in flat (constant) power to the grid. “Interconnecting wind farms through the transmission grid is a simple and effective way of reducing deliverable wind power swings caused by wind intermittency.”

            Oh, and “wind energy is a widely-available, affordable, reliable, and rapidly scalable source of carbon emissions reductions.”

            I’ll go with Stanford, over youtube, thanks all the same.

            As for China choking on waste — is that for hundreds or thousands of years, or merely a matter or better production processes?

            As for Google — well, they should tell Warren Buffet how to make a buck. Seems he’s the dill for whacking in another billion or three into renewables.

            Sorry Walter, arguing for lame duck technologies is (to paraphrase Jeremy Rifkin) “cock-a-maimy thinking”.

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            Steve Germany has been forced to replace clean nukes with 12 large coal power plant due to the highly disruptive power Gribbons that renewables caused!

            Clean safe emission free 24/7 power is needed world wide, Google who has spent billions on green realizes that you can’t build enough of them globally to keep the world’s air clean. The sooner with embrace the Good reactor the MSR the faster the world will clean up.

            As MSRs are low pressure, they don’t need Billion dollar pressure dome. They are perfect for the highly distributed grid. The first MSR test reactor built was a 2 MW aircraft test reactor and flew on over a dozen flights, program was discontinued when the ballitic Missle came to the forefront.

            Power density of nuclear is 1,000,000 times that of fossil fuel and about 5,000,000 time denser than renewable. Add up the tossed away Thorium in the tailing ponds yearly of Rare Earth plants and you have unlimited clean energy using MSRs. Your stance on the anti-nuke power is alarmists to say the least.

            MSRs burn 99% of its fuel and all of the long lived waste, they leave a very small manageable amount that turns inert in decades not hundreds of thousands of years. They also solve the unspent fuel issue of the nuclear waste of the current PWR fleet worldwide 97-99% of the fuel waste is unspent due to the inefficient solid fuel design.

            Then let’s look at deaths per unit of power:

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            Alarmist? lol

            Uhm, no. Just simple old common sense.

            DO YOU WANT nuclear waste in the environment?

            YES of NO?

            If yes, right, stick the stuff in your backyard.

            If no, righto, get creative solve the f^%king problems.

            Jeez, what a bunch of no-hopers …

            Either find a way, or make a way (Hannibal)

            If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, … mountains will move.(Jesus)

            Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right. (Henry Ford)

            Have any of you ever done anything creative, “outside the box:” original, visionary?

            by the sound of it, nooooooooooo, “it’s too hard, too scary.”

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            “If renewables cannot scale fast enough to address climate change …”

            You know, I gotta hand it to you Walter … that was crazy-good, enjoyable reading about your no-hopers’ society’s 1950s thinking.

            Yep, can’t put a man (or woman) on the moon — ’cause, like you know, it’s too high up there in the sky.

            Can’t can’t can’t.

            You do realise, circa 1950s solar PV (in theory, ’cause they weren’t built back then) would need to cover 15,000 Eath-sized planets to produce enough energy to power your home.

            So, you know, not much point to that whole silliness, no sirree.

            Tell me Walter, good sir, which society, or cooperative are you a member: negaholics anonymous, the no-hopers society, and/or the “I can’t see past my own nose” foundation? Maybe you were a founding member of all three.

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            I am for space exploration and you seem to be saying you can’t build safe uber clean nuclear power. I don’t have anything against roof top solar. I do hate wind power impact on birds, bats & humans in its shadows. It is not environmentally friendly to cover 115,000 acres with wind to equal a typical nuclear power plant. What you seem to can’t do is read the deep links that prove nuclear power is the safest form of energy and if the Molten Salt Reactor was used globally for power plant designs since the 1960s we would be totally free of coal power by now.

            to replace the 450 nuclear plants you would have to cover 81,000 sq. miles of land/water with bird kills and destroy the open vistas of nature. I am saying we can power responsible power, clean up the waste stream of renewable rare earth processing plants and without any additional mining power the planet…you sir…are saying we can’t.

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            Dear me, your replies typify what is meant by “disingenuous”

            The question asked: DO YOU WANT nuclear waste (however low risk) in your backyard — I’m betting no. Hence the disingenuous.

            As for wind — look, the nature of human creativity is finding better solutions. In addition to PV, wave-energy, geothermal, off-shore wind, have barely begun to be exploited.

            You constant referencing past, or present dangerous-waste technologies is tiresome. All we need to do is do a “Manhattan project” (or an “Apollo program”) on renewables. Done.

            Jeez, have you ever had a creative, original thought?

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            I want less environmental impact on the planet and the MSR offers that….add to its ability to burn the existing nuclear waste’s 99% unspent fuel…it is a huge win win…the main research was done already on the MSR….China is building it now….I would rather have the West control the Coal Killer app….It is your inability to grasp reality that casts the your repetitions on failing tech…. MSRs don’t spew out anything they burn it…your renewable toxic waste

            As the MSR can’t blow up, or melt down were there a pipe failure the fuel would simply solidify. The melted salt is inert with water and air….it is a very very very safe and great system…

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago
          • Steve159 6 years ago

            “The head of one of Australia’s biggest electricity networks says he sees no long-term future for large, centralised electricity generators, nor for big electricity retailers.”

            Walter, we had a film in Australia a while back, with the catch phrase, “Tell him he’s dreamin'” (translated “you’ve got no hope of getting it”)

            Anyway, you’ve been told so you should cease and desist with your glow-in-the-dark silliness.

            The articles continues with

            ——————— ——————-

            “SA Power Networks, like Ergon Energy in Queensland, and Horizon Power in WA, is currently looking at using battery storage to replace poles and wires and to encourage more local renewable generation. For the moment, this is being done for the sake of reliability – poles and wires carrying
            electrons from centralised coal fired power stations are prone to damage from winds and fire, and can no longer be relied upon.

            But it is also becoming rapidly more economic – as well as more reliable – to use solar and storage to establish micro-grids; first in areas that compete with diesel fuels, and within a few years in regional towns. Inevitably, as the technology is deployed, this will also be the case in larger towns and cities.

            “We will have a totally new business model going forward,” Stobbe told analysts during the presentation. “There is no doubt about that. We just need to be part of it.”

            ———————- —————————

            Unlike the doubt surrounding nuclear, there is NO doubt about renewables.


            blessings on your journey.



          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            Batteries are a disullional utility scale fantasy…99% of all global energy storage is pumped water storage using renewables to pimp water uphill so they can power conventional turbines when energy is needed on the grid…it isn’t very fun when I am winning with one arm tied behind my back to keep it fair…

            Please bury your head in the sand like some of the wildlife do down under…

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            So let me understand “The head of one of Australia’s biggest electricity networks” is dillusional?


            btw, re the head in the sand reference. That’s a pearler, a classic. Priceless.

            In Awstralia, we have emus, not ostriches, to which that myth has been attributed.

            As I said “a classic” — citing a myth about an animal that is not native to Australia.


            And Walter I’ve worked in a major Australian university, and I can assure you, that ain’t where the creative movers and shakers hang out. So I wouldn’t get too excited by what a bunch of academics are saying. In my experience, they’re about 10 years behind the leading thinkers, the doers, the entrepreneurs.

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            couldn’t resist.

            Germany having all sorts of challenges (bad). But wait … they only need bung in a few Thorium reactors and all those nasty terrible challenges gone. Sweat.

            Any day now.

            any news yet?

            excuse me while I go wash my hair.

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            I can’t resist…might as well wash your hair as ou have been brain washed into anti nuke….there is 77 years of. Ray be recovered in the nuclear waste areas….you Ralls look at the toxic waste lands of China’s solar factories…but there is hope in China they are stealing the ORNL design with Obama’s Dept. Of Energy’s help and they are on a $Billion cash program with the MSR….so let’s let China steal the answer to the global problem for 24/7 because of zealots like yourself….MSRs are greenest and most sustainable source of energy period.

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            Ding! (like in hospital rooms, every blog needs a responding “ding”)

            “because of zealots like yourself” Wrong (that’s the ding).

            Not anti-anything, PRO-clean, renewable energy

            Dingaling … reality calling.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            Hey Walter I just Googled about all this nuclear nonsense (you know the one’s that are going to be put in your backyard).

            “The primary concern with MSRs is that the radioactive fission products can get everywhere. They are not in fuel pins surrounded by cladding, but are just in a big, sealed vat. You can put a double-layer containment around it, sure, but it is still challenging to keep them all accounted for.”

            Ah, challenges, yes these are good challenges, I take it, whereas those associate with clean renewable energy are “bad” — irrepressibly insurmountably bad (very bad, apparently, so bad in fact, the worst).

            I get it now. Thank you.

            Don’t suppose you work anywhere new Lucas Heights in Sydney (how’s your tenure going), or with a company called Haliblerton or some such?

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            God Steve you are dense! The Molten Salt reactor is effecientcies because it isn’t solid fuel!! Idiotic is close to summing up your horses blinders to relatity.

            No I’m in very stupidly renewable green California…I know your blindness very well…first step stop the beep rain washing…bi put please wash your hair…the stench of your failed approach is circulating the planet.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            Now Walter, I must take you to task.

            “Idiotic” … that’s a bit lame. You can do better.

            “Rain washing”. Okay, that’s original — or at least I’d not heard it before, not sure what it means, but heck, I’ll pay that. Mind you, I don’t get out much, so maybe not so original, in which case, see response to “idiotic”.

            Stench, well maybe — but I don’t go doing energy-periods all over the place. Give me credit for that at least. And stop going on about the horses — haven’t they been scared enough?

          • WalterHorsting 6 years ago

            The Horses ass are scare enough by the blinder wearing anti- nukes

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            okay, I think I understand now — translating “horses’ arses”?, and blinkers? (here in Australia).

            And you’re obviously concerned about keeping up your supply of glow-in-the-dark toothpaste. If we all go with this renewable tomfoolery, no more toothpaste, well, not the easy to find, glow in the dark variety.

            So I hear you. I feel for you.

            Maybe a compromise? You guys in good ‘ol USA go with your MSRy and do what you do, and we here in Australia will get on with going renewable. We already are … we’re in the top 10 countries, according to this

          • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

            “fission products get everywhere”

            Did you seriously visit “” and pull THAT quote from their page? You just scrolled down to “PROBLEMS” and grabbed the first thing you saw?

            There’s chemistry involved Steve. We’re lucky to be able to use chemistry to extract fission products from the solution. There’s a lot of them we don’t want in there.

            In a solid fuel reactor they’re trapped in the fuel rods. They don’t “get everywhere” because they’re trapped exactly where you don’t want them to be.

            Use chemistry to separate the fission products out of the solution… some of the just bubble out and are easily collected.

            Then you don’t have problematic ones like Xenon absorbing neutrons before they decay away (and then suddenly NOT absorbing neutrons).

            I’ve heard MSRE researchers speak at length about the challenges of pulling out fission products, and keeping them from going where you don’t want them, such as plating out in the heat exchanger.

            I’d be perfectly happy to have an MSR in my neighborhood. I live in Alberta so PWR isn’t very likely… fossil fuels are way too inexpensive around here and not enough bodies of water. Both PWR problems in this market addressable by MSR.

            I’d also be happy to live under a wind turbine… I’ve paid extra for wind power in the past when I thought it might make a difference. Or you can stick solar panels on my house, if you like.

            But for my money, advancing nuclear is what’ll address global warming the fastest. I’ve been watching Germany’s CO2/kWh it is crawling down terribly slowly for a heck of a lot of money.

            I look back at France’s track record when they went nuclear. That seems like it was a more effective investment.

            Ontario is a great example of a clean grid.

            Why you get all worked up about a particular tech I don’t understand. None source of electricity is perfect. They ALL kill people. Per kWh, nuclear is one of the safest.

            And nuclear does a great job of replacing coal… lots of coal plants in USA where built exactly where nuclear plants were intended to be. That’s what I saw touring coal plants in USA… they were situated where a nuclear reactor could have gone.

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            … whatever.

            You’re more than welcome to your opinions.

            my responses were intended for Australians (you know, this is a website), lest they get all silly in the head and somehow think nuclear is a viable, “clean” (cough) and cost-effective option.

            Chile now under 10c/kWh, Dubai under 7c/kWh with PV.

            “Worked up”?

            Jeez, have you got that wrong — I enjoy shouting “dummkopf” for those holding silly-headed ideas.

            As for your lack of imagination, you must also be a founding member of negaholics anonymous? or the no-hopers society. Maybe both.

          • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago


            YOU brought up fission products. It just looked like you had an opportunity to learn about Molten Salt Reactors, and you scrolled past it all on your quest for an easy response.

            You’re citing countries that are just starting to build out their renewables. They should be doing that at least a little bit. Evey country can do that.

            But, when renewable penetration starts to match capacity factor, in terms of percentage, then the fact they’re not always generating power becomes a problem. That’s when you start to see diminishing returns on each new build. The sun sets for everyone. Windless days tend to not just impact a single wind farm.

            Why is Germany building new coal plants, Steve?

            Why doesn’t Japan just build out renewables and drop nuclear entirely, Steve?

            It’s just the powers that be? There’s no engineering challenge to be had?

            They don’t for the exact same reasons Ben cautions against trying to depend on renewables for 100% of your carbon-free electricity. I do kinda wonder if you watched his talk.

            My own province of Alberta, and your country Australia, are in the exact same boat. We both emit a ridiculous amount of GHG per kWh.

            Alberta isn’t gong to “renewable” its way to GHG-free energy, any more than Australia is. Our fossil fuels are too inexpensive.

            If you seriously thing it can be done, direct me to your actual build-out proposal of renewables. How many solar panels, and how many wind turbines will it take? What’ll it cost?

            Not for your NEXT kWh of GHG free energy, which nobody disputes can be done with renewables and probably should be done with renewables because it is easy at this point wherever there’s abundant hydro to balance them out.

            But the hard job of actually getting GHG down to stabilize our climate… What’s the final build-out look like for Australia? I’ve seen such projections by pro-renewable folk for North America and they’re a joke.

            I can tell you how easy going GHG-free is with nuclear… take a coal plant. Build a nuclear plant right next to it. Stop burning the coal. Done.

            That works just as well for shutting down the first coal plant as it does for shutting down the last one.

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            As before, whatever

            Here in Australia they’ve been mothballing power stations at a fair clip due to lower demand — via increased efficiencies, and with around 1/4 of all households with PV.

            So as we go towards 1/2 to 3/4 or higher of households with PV, more stations gone. Done dead gone.

            So I really don’t get what you’re on about — South Australia is on some days 100% renewable. let me repeat: 100% renewable — that’s for the entire state. And when flow-batteries or LI or whatever scale up, other states to follow.


            Tell you want — ring up some South Australians and you tell ’em, ‘oi, stop all that renewables nonsense — put a nuclear power station in and be sensible’

            roflol (that’s rolling on floor, laughing out loud for you luddites)

            btw, earlier you implied I was getting worked up — correct, while ‘roflol’ … laughter is apparently one of the best work outs. It’s been immensely entertaining to see you negaholics at work.

          • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago


            I’ve heard deployment bragging before. Peak capacity bragging too.

            Rarely do I hear bragging about reduction in CO2 emissions, and I’m not hearing it from you.

            Southern Australia consumer electricity pollutes 720g CO2/kWh according to a 2014 governmental report (page 70):


            That is why I’m not impressed by deployment or peak capacity.

            Germany has fantastic deployment and penetration… and not-too-impressive CO2/kWh stats… if you’re wondering how this might play out for you in the future.

            Yes, I’m informing Australians about nuclear. They’ve been previously mis-informed.


            (And you’ll be excited to know I’m emitting 31g CO2/kWh to respond to your comment.)

          • Giles 6 years ago

            And if you quote the entire document – or even just that page – that represents a fall of 30 per cent in the last few years in S.A. – corresponding with renewables going from 0 to …. 30%. What a marvellous coincidence. And since that data is out of date, and S.A. is now at 40% renewables, we can expect to see a similar reduction of that order. So, really, you should be impressed by deployment or peak capacity.

          • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

            Giles, I’m sure you’ve had to deal with climate change deniers before. Any change to tangent off, they do so. Steve seems similar, so I was trying to present ideas too him with minimum of framing.

            “You can cite a mountain of data and facts and figures. It doesn’t matter.” -Steve159

            I directed him to page 70 so we could get into further details if he noticed the glaring 2012 himself. Otherwise it was more tangent opportunity when I was really trying to get some basic ideas across.

            But for the rest of us, yes adding solar to the grid seems to be effective (and a reasonable investment) until penetration matches capacity factor, then the impact on CO2 is lowered for every additional solar panel added.

            If you’ve got some 2014 (or newer than 2012) for SA I’d love to see it. That I found a 2014 gov doc citing 2012 stats figured was best I could offer. (“Out of date” but not deliberately so.)

            Australia’s RE saturation is at what, 6% right now? So you’ve got a ways to go before saturation matches capacity factor.

            I can’t imagine Australia doing anything other than adding RE in the immediate future. Either slowly or quickly, but you’re not going to start building a reactor tomorrow.

            I WOULD like to have your citizens well-informed before RE saturation hits ~30%. Because at that point adding another wind turbine or solar panel may look less appealing. At that point, you may want to have additional options to keep trying to lower CO2/kWh.

            This notion that Steve returns to “People here DON’T want nuclear” is not something that needs to be addressed overnight. It can be addressed in parallel with RE deployment.

            I’m not really sure RE is a wise investment, but that’s none of my business for Australia… if you guys want to spend on RE today I’m happy so long as CO2 can be kept in check. It does concern me that I do NOT believe Australia can power itself entirely by RE… no more so than Germany or Japan can. Both being countries who’s population would love to do so if only they could.

            Does that make me pessimistic? I don’t know. I think I’m being realistic. At any rate, there’s misconceptions about what renewables can do today, and there’s misconceptions about how dangerous nuclear power is today. I’d like to help clear that up for the sake of decisions we’ll all have to make tomorrow, as RE saturation increases and the value of further RE penetration decreases.

            And I wish you’d help clear-up your take on Ben’s talk…


            …that’s 2 clarifications you’ve offered which (in my opinion) obfuscated as much as they clarified. I’m serious I spent more time than I’d have liked trying to figure out what you were saying Ben said. Just post the full quote of it, the Ben “lamenting the state of the nuclear industry”.

          • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

            Correction: “Any change to tangent off, they do so.” should read “Any CHANCE to tangent off, they do so.”

            I also see I might be unclear on my enthusiasm for renewables, Given the current situation Austria’s pursuit of RE is RATIONAL and REASONABLE.

            But I see limitations to RE, so in the future you’ll need more options. If batteries or other energy storage can come way down in cost… basically if limitation of RE are economically addressed… then nuclear is not required because. It might still make economic sense, but it won’t be required.

            Yes, it MIGHT be REQUIRED. In the future. And if that requirement comes to a head, and Australians are still (deliberately) mis-informed about nuclear, then your CO2 emissions will hold steady.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            Gordon (Walter, et al)

            It seems you still don’t get it.

            You can cite a mountain of data and facts and figures.

            It doesn’t matter.

            People here DON’T want nuclear, however safe you claim it to be. As Rifkin said, we’re the Saudi Arabia of renewables. It’s a brain-dead idea that we need nuclear.

            Everything about your posts, and those of your affiliated no-hopers is about what renewables can’t do. You’re one of those dreadful naysayers who ruin the life of a party, of possibility and prosperity.

            Solutions can be found. A renewable-powered future is available. What’s missing (at least at present) is the determination to make it happen.

            Even after we achieve 100% renewable (24/7/365) you’ll still be banging on about … “but what if the sun goes supernova… you won’t have any sun then”.

            I’m guessing by your responses here, you have a vested interest in nuclear. Either that or there’s something wrong in your head, sad to say.

          • Todd 6 years ago

            Speaking of California, their electricity grid operator sees challenges of meeting 33% renewable target by 2020 “To maintain reliability the ISO must continuously match the demand for electricity with supply on a second-by-second basis. Historically, the ISO directed conventional, controllable power plant units to move up or down with the instantaneous or variable demand. With the growing penetration of renewables on the grid, there are higher levels of non-controllable, variable generation resources. Because of that, the ISO must direct controllable resources to match both variable demand and variable supply”

          • Steve159 6 years ago


            Golly, I mean, really, you don’t say.

            Putting a man on the moon — challenge free. Yes sirree

            Manhattan project, building the A-Bomb, smooth as, no challenges whatsoever.

            Yes, we should all kibosh renewables because there are CHALLENGES.

            Dear me, we’re all doomed. No hope at all.

            One question: guys (Watler, Todd, Mark et al): we’re does one sign up to “negaholics anonymous society”, or the “no-hopers foundation”, or the “I can’t think past my own nose” cooperative”?

            pes pme

          • Todd 6 years ago

            Perhaps some day the laws of physics will be defied or rewritten.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            You mean how certain beliefs based on Newtonian science were eclipsed by quantum theory.

            They didn’t see that coming. Like you know, “if you’re not shocked by quantum theory, you don’t understand it”

            So, we invent a few them there quantum computers, using superpositioning, and … bingo, whole new technologies.

            Now, if you’re still in the dark ages of physics, yes, you’re right … nothing to see here. Move along.

            Your name’s not Hilbert by any chance? … descended from the guy who said we only need to tidy up a few more decimal places, and all is known. How’s that working for you?.

            So sad … then along came Gödel, Heisenberg, Turing and boy oh boy did they not done did upset the whole apple-cart of comfortable mechanical-universe views.

            Yes, nothing new under the sun … lol

          • Todd 6 years ago

            Here’s another article in regards to Energy Return on Energy Invested, more focused on the electricity generation sources themselves. “The underlying theme of 100% renewable plans is the assumption that through increased complexity, an optimal set of synergies can be discovered and exploited. The difficulty is that the plans operate solely within the shallow “simulation layer” … With few exceptions, little consideration is given to the deeper first- and second-order layer issues.”

        • Steve159 6 years ago

          I don’t think many will miss the fact you avoided the question:

          Do you want a future powered by nuclear, or renewable technologies?

          It is easy to envisage a future fully powered by renewables. The technology is available, now.

          It is, I believe, disingenuous to attempt to deflect from the obvious — we can envisage, and build a renewable-powered future.

          It seems you have a vested interest in nuclear judging by you favouring nuclear, given the risk, the dangerous waste, and the requirement for government money to construct.

          • AtomicSprings 6 years ago

            Why is it assumed that if you support nuclear you don’t support renewables? I support both and if renewables are able to provide 100% at lower cost why wouldn’t I support that outcome.

            You need to move away from the either/or perspective and consider how luck we are to have multiple options for displacing fossil fuels.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            I think the word “disengenous’ applies here.

            The question is can you envisage a future fully powered by renewable energy?

            If no, fine, be honest about it.

            If yes, no need for all this talk of dangerous-waste products, accidents and whatever else.

          • AtomicSprings 6 years ago

            Surely you don’t want our energy policy to be determined by whether someone can envision all our energy coming from one source?

            I have no clue how we will be generating or using our energy in the future, so why would I want to limit any of the options today. The most sensible thing would be to have a mix and keep your options open.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            You appear to be conflating process details with result.

            The result (future fully powered by renewables, or other clean energy) does not dictate or limit. It opens the way forward.

            I asked, can you envisage a future in which we’re fully powered by renewables? Are you arguing that a future fully powered by renewables is impossible?

            If not (to the former) or if so (to the latter), the audience can deduce that you’re holding to a limited way forward due to vested interests, or .. a lack of imagination and determination to help bring possibilities into actuality.

          • Timothy Maloney 6 years ago

            I can’t envisage a future fully powered by renewables.

            They don’t work all the time. Capacity Factor = 13% on my roof.

          • Steve159 6 years ago

            “They don’t work all the time.” … yet

            With the inevitable significant drop in price of PV panels and batteries, coupled with greater efficiency (UNSW 40%, Blue-Ray patterning +20% etc) you’ll have power 24/7.

            Motorvehicles in the early 1900s could not go far, broke down regularly etc. Now, can drive non-stop 600+kms.

            So your point is?

  6. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    I suspect the nukes have some of the same old problems as other centralised generating entities – whereas before all our energy was controlled by a few, now almost everybody can do it and improve their self-sufficiency. For some reason that has not gone down well with the ‘establishment’ – who love to control for control’s sake and produce for us everything we need.It does appear that Ms Bishop’s discussion of nukes in 10 – 20 years would increase to 30 years once all the planning issues have been sorted out. And that would be just about the right time for deeply vested interests to extract themselves from coal and gas and launch into clean energy in their own way.

    • RobS 6 years ago

      Show me a nuke project begun in the last two decades whose build time and projected cost hasn’t at least doubled and I’ll eat my hat.

      • wilful 6 years ago

        What does it taste like? There are several. Try Qinshan in China to start with.

      • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

        There’ll be no need. Whatever it costs, it’ll be shared across the tax base. Nuke energy user, or not.

  7. Andrew Thaler 6 years ago

    I think it is really just part of the LNP arse-covering tactic so that when they get to Peru and the ‘world’ rightly condemns them for having their heads in the sand (and up their arse) they can trot out something like “Oh, but we are having a discussion of options to reduce our CO2″… the only thing they hate is embarrassment and there is coal-shovels full of that piled at their feet at the moment!

  8. Steve159 6 years ago

    The technology or the cost of nuclear isn’t particularly relevant to the LNP. What is relevant is how to keep, or increase centralised control.

    Decentralized power generation, as with solar on roofs, is not easily controlled — so while they’ve been seen to not attempt to change the small RET, they would if they could, in order to get everyone buying power from their centralized (and likely friends’) power stations.

    Just follow the money.

  9. Alan Baird 6 years ago

    The nuclear issue is a wedge. Sure as eggs. Between the ALP and Greens for a kick off.

  10. Ben Heard 6 years ago

    This is a particularly cheap bit of smear.

    It is also a particularly clumsy bit of smear, as the session was videoed by two cameras, and I was wearing two voice recorders just to make sure.

    I will make a point-by-point response linked to the footage when it is available, and the readers of Reneweconomy will be able to decide for themselves just who is taking climate change seriously, and who is engaging in cherry-picking and deliberate misrepresentations.

  11. John P 6 years ago

    Lots of opinions here on this topic.
    Here is some evidence. I have been living “off grid / on renewables” for the last 22 years. I have saved a small fortune and enjoyed a zero emissions home life. I usually say to visitors that I am powered by a thermo-nuclear fusion reactor located at a safe distance from the nearest population centre.
    My background is in physics. I appreciate ‘binding energy per nucleon’ and all the other attractions but I prefer that the reactor be at least 93 million miles away from where I live – for obvious reasons.

    • Timothy Maloney 6 years ago

      Mr. John P,

      Are they obvious?

      • John P 6 years ago

        They should be. The sun that powers my place is a reactor at a distance of 150 million km. It is obvious to me that such a distance is safe. The people of Pripyat and Fukushima would probably have loved that level of separation too.

    • WhatTheFlux 6 years ago

      Not obvious to me. Please elaborate.

  12. ellther 6 years ago

    Yes, replacing our coal-fired power stations with clean energy infrastructure will be bloody expensive. It will be very expensive no matter what technology or combination of technologies is used. But we should choose the technology(ies) that is the cheapest possible solution that actually accomplishes the job of coal plant replacement with clean technology.

    Solar power is not cheaper than coal, nuclear is not cheaper than coal, wind or anything else is not cheaper than coal. If Technology X was actually genuinely cheaper than coal, free market capitalists would be out there using it extensively right now, and it would be already supplying the nation’s electricity instead of coal. But that technology does not exist.

    Why are anti-nuclearists so scared of nuclear power in a relatively free capitalist market that they demand legislation to be put in place banning any private industry from constructing or operating it with private money? If it’s so expensive why is legislation to ban it needed?

    Wind or solar energy proponents constantly lobby for subsidies, handouts and government support mechanisms such as the RET that are specifically ideologically biased in favor of those technologies, and yet it is demanded that nuclear power must be expected to compete with dirty coal in a free market with no support, with no market signal or price applied to CO2 emissions.

    We don’t need to have this argument or debate about whether nuclear energy is too expensive, or solar is too expensive or whatever. Let the market decide, they’re very very good at working out the cheapest, most efficient solution.

    Simply put a price on CO2 emissions.
    Remove ideological legislation banning nuclear power.
    Remove any handouts or subsidies that are specific to any particular technology, such as coal or fossil fuels, or solar or wind, or nuclear for that matter.

    I agree with Abbott that nuclear energy shouldn’t expect subsidies from the government – with the possible exception of technology-neutral clean energy incentives that apply equally to one highly reliable, dispatchable kilowatt-hour from solar, wind or geothermal equally as with nuclear.

    But solar or wind shouldn’t expect technology-specific ideological winner-picking incentives or subsidies either.

    Perhaps introduce some sort of “clean energy target” or incentive mechanism for capital-intensive new construction (like the US loan guarantee program, for example) that applies consistently and fairly for all generation of clean energy to replace coal plants, without ideological discrimination for or against any particular technology, if the CO2 price itself is not a strong enough signal.

    Remove any “compensation” for coal-fired power stations, and prevent them from simply continuing to burn coal and pass the cost over to consumer bills.

    And then, with those basic constraints, the market will be relatively free to deploy whichever technologies are the cheapest way to deliver real clean-energy replacement of coal.

    But the anti-nuclearists won’t support this, because then the market will go and use nuclear power! So they insist that nuclear power must be ideologically banned.

    “The construction risk, the insurance risk, the production risk and the financing risk all have to be assumed by the government, because no private company will risk their own balance sheet.”

    Got any evidence for that?

    • Rob G 6 years ago

      Even if nuclear had the full support of the population and was 100% harmless it would still cost more than solar and wind. In a market the more you make the cheaper it becomes to build – true of solar, wind, mobile phones, TVs etc BUT and it’s a big BUT, nuclear is the opposite. It is one of the few things that gets more expensive with every year. It was cheaper to build nuclear 10 years ago.

      Coal is only the ‘cheapest’ because it is so heavily subsidised and it’s health costs are ignored. Their subsidies that make the RET look like pocket money for small children – so lets not talks of the helping hand renewables get. Remember coal fire stations were build with 100% tax payers dollars, which is not the case with renewables. Coal has been help every step of the way. Today, we are at a point where many countries have already reached solar/wind parity with coal and that’s with coal subsidised!

      No I don’t think we need to have a debate on what’s best – Your technology ‘X’ is solar and wind – you just don’t see it. And while the market will eventually decide what’s best, we need governments and their protective policies to get out of the way to let it play out. When that happens solar will be king.

    • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

      It’s a worthwhile discussion when we seek to level the playing field. How does one technology’s cost compare with another ? Who is being subsidised through rather sneaky and rent-seeking means ? And yes Nukes rare part of the bigger picture. If it were true that all technology had to ba paid for by the consumers through their tariffs, nuclear could be a starter, but the market cost of a Large Generation Certificate would have to be about $1000.

  13. Rob G 6 years ago

    Nuclear is a logical step for the ignorant to suggest when addressing the Co2 emissions reductions. On the surface in looks like an answer with a big base load capacity. Something that seems to be a ‘fault’ the ignorant have with renewables.

    What is interesting about Julie Bishop raising the nuclear question, is it shows a growing split within the Liberals. The guardian pointed out that Abbott wasn’t a fan of nuclear and says he believes we should carrying on with coal (Abbott logic: we’ve got lots of it therefore we should use it). He doesn’t believe in climate change and sees no need to change from coal. Julie Bishop and others within the ranks ‘appear’ to see the need to act on climate action and their answer is nuclear. I think in the coming months we will see Abbott ousted and replaced by Bishop.

    Bishop and her colleagues seem unable to shift their old ways of thinking about renewables and will blender there way into another chapter of embarrassing decisions by Australia’s worst government. The cannot see the danger on the horizon even with the valuable lesson they got in VIC this weekend. Renewables offer the answer to our energy woes but for the Liberals they are unable to see this, while most of the voting public can. How is it possible to be so ignorant?

    • Alen T 6 years ago

      It is just another deflection by Julie/LNP and aimed to shift focus, Nuclear will simply never be built, and if it does it will unlikely ever commence operating. LCOE might be very low, but the network component of your bill will still be high and solar costs will continue to go down and customers will continue to install rooftop system, thus smaller customer base equals higher power prices…the death spiral will grip the centralised grid well before the reactor generates its first Wh.

  14. Rob 6 years ago

    Whether it represents delaying tactics from Australia’s greedy mining industry, irrational antipathy of the Right toward anything ‘Green’, lobbying by rent-seeking nuclear engineers, or all of the above, nuclear dreams keep recurring.

    Now Julie Bishop wants to have another ‘sensible discussion’ about nuclear for electricity generation. When the usual objections are raised – cost, centralised, dangerous, high maintenance, no solution for waste, risk of proliferation – today’s nuclear enthusiasts spruik the benefits of exotic variants like thorium, fast breeders and other kinds of third generation reactors that supposedly address these problems. Lockheed Martin even claim to have fusion reactor in ‘high beta’ and expect a 100 MW prototype by 2017. But beyond the dream it seems there is nothing new in nuclear actually up and running and delivering on these promises. Meanwhile wind and solar pass new milestones on a monthly basis and their share of generation continues to rise.

    Apparently Julie is keen on a company called TerraPower in which Bill Gates is an investor. The website makes the concept sound wonderful but it doesn’t exist, even in beta. It is yet another R&D project and if Bill Gates wasn’t associated with it, hardly anyone would give it a second thought.

    This is not to dismiss the value of worthwhile R&D that is going on, or to argue that it is not worth risking funds on technologies that may not work out. On the contrary, we should be investing prudently in all stages of R&D across a range of different technologies, and not just ones for which the Australian mining industry aims to sell people the fuel. Pity we no longer have a carbon pollution tax with which to fund this R&D.

  15. barrie harrop 6 years ago

    Planning approval process for nuclear allow up to 20 years funding full Federal Government guaranteed to get up,then you will have grids to deal with not capable of massive loads then you have sites no one wants these plants next door.

    • Mark Duffett 6 years ago

      My backyard’s available.

  16. Ken Fabian 6 years ago

    First off Abbott and team are not serious about nuclear. No government that rejects science on climate, in a nation that practically floats on a deep layer of coal, will force nuclear on an industry that doesn’t want it and wants to keep using that coal.

    It is pure distraction, that aims to suggest our Conservatives have a fallback plan for if they are wrong about climate. They do not. It’s a “plan” that’s perfect for some far distant future where it will not impact on fossil fuels and business as usual for a long, long time.

    It’s also a political ploy that is a way to give the appearance of being “more serious” about climate than “greenies” when they are not, that, when they inevitably take a fall in the first round and abandon any actual commitments to nuclear (never were any), they can blame those same “greenies”. Much as it’s a stick to beat renewables preferring climate activists with “not good enough” it’s also a way to pacify those within their own side of politics that do think climate should be taken seriously without actually doing anything about climate. No climate action and blame greenies for it – for the demographic of climate science denying greenie hating that they have spent decades cultivating and making part of their Conservative base – that looks like a deliciously ironic win win.

    Complete crap of course; they have no commitment to climate action and no commitment to nuclear and will “throw” the fight for nuclear in the first round – all their money being on fossil fuels.

    Meanwhile proponents of nuclear consistently fail to clean their own house of anti-environmentalist climate science deniers and leading proponents appear to have made a conscious decision to avoid the issue of climate science denial in mainstream politics as well – too hard. They choose to concentrate on winning over renewables preferring ‘greenies’ – by telling them how stupid they are. How’s that working out?

  17. David McMullen 6 years ago

    Let’s compare the construction costs of Hinkley nuclear and Ivanpah concentrated solar.

    Hinkley: $45 billion for 3.2 GW is $15.6 million per MW after allowing a capacity factor of 90%.

    Ivanpahs: $2.2 billion for 377 MW is $17.7 million per MW after allowing a capacity factor of 33%.

    The 23 Ivanpahs required to provide the same capacity as Hinkley would cost $51 billion.

    They are both pretty much in the same ball park.

    • Mike Dill 6 years ago

      Double that Hinkley construction estimate for the retirement costs. That is what I see as the difference.

    • RobS 6 years ago

      A few points, that is the current estimate of Hinkley’s eventual cost, when the project started it was estimated at less than 10 billion, assuming no further cost blowouts in a project that has blown out over fourfold before soil is turned seems silly.

      Second, the Hinkley numbers are to deliver an operating nuclear plant, it fails to take into account the enormous ongoing costs of running a nuclear plant, look at the billions spent on the San on offer plant in its last few years whist producing no power whatsoever before the eventual decisions to simply scrap it, it also doesn’t include decommissioning costs. Third, Hinkley is the result of decades of experience building nuclear plants with multiple generations of technology and represents a mature technology with all the economic benefits such experience brings, Ivanpah is the first of its kind at such scale and a large component of the project’s cost essentially represents the cost of R&D of building a new type of power plant, a cost which fairly should be amortised amongst future similar projects which will benefit from it’s technological advances. Do you really believe that if 23 more Ivanpahs were built they would all be equally as expensive as we went from a first of its kind project to a maturing technology with economies of experience and scale?

  18. Sandy Dance 6 years ago

    Thanks for putting me onto, he makes a lot of sense!

  19. gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

    Giles, as the editor of the video showing the talk you’re referring to (“Nuclear Power for Australia – Exploring our nuclear responsibilities – Ben Heard “)…

    …I’m not sure when you heard…

    “…nuclear cheerleader Ben Heard blamed everyone from lefties to greenies for the current state of the nuclear industry.”

    …and this is me having access to the extended Q&A audio as well.

    Please clarify.

    • WhatTheFlux 6 years ago

      Thanks for the footage, Mr. McDowell.

    • Hannahg1 6 years ago

      Another hugely informative film! We live in a universe composed of matter and radiation, and can achieve clean water, air and global prosperity by embracing all relatively safe energy producing technologies. Only Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors offer a proven, clean, safe and abundant source of energy, forever…

    • kgothier 6 years ago

      Another hugely informative film! We live in a universe composed of matter and radiation, and can achieve clean water, air and global prosperity by embracing all relatively safe energy producing technologies. Only Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors offer a proven, clean, safe and abundant source of energy, forever…

    • Dr. A. Cannara 6 years ago

      Yes, as they ‘achieved’ at Shoreham Long Island in the 80s, naive anti-nukes think shrillness is more important that studying science and the environment. Thus, their ‘success’ in shuttering Shoreham has resulted in increased disease & death in a region that’s ~30% coal.

      But, the mark of a true un-environmental, anti-nuke activist is that he/she doesn’t care that he/she is being played by the combustion folks they claim to hate. They behave as do climate deniers — avoiding facts.

      The pics below show how the Oil Heat Institute fooled Long Island protesters, who then scared Gov/ Cuomo senior, and together, they added to the >12,000 coal-emissions deaths the EPA estimates each year. >36 years of added deaths — something to be proud of? A friend protested there. He’s since some to realize his past foolishness.

      The 2nd pic shows how the coal folks fooled Australia — something that has yet to be unwound, as Aussies realize their high contributions to global emissions.

      And the last pic shows the absurdity of being anti-nuclear power.

      • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

        I’d just like to clarify Alex’s point regarding “how the coal folks fooled Australia” …its common knowledge to folks who’d watched Pandora’s Promise but maybe not so to anyone glancing at that image.

        At the bottom right, in the dotted-line rectangle you can read that the “Solar not Nuclear!” campaign was being run by the Oil Heat Institute.

        I’m guessing they didn’t see solar as the real competition?

    • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

      Giles, here…

      …I see you are justifying this description of Ben’s talk…

      “nuclear cheerleader Ben Heard blamed everyone from lefties to greenies for the current state of the nuclear industry”

      …by your directions to find matching commentary from Ben…

      “There is a brigade of anti nuclear activities globally” that only want
      us to be afraid of nuclear etc etc. … a one minute
      lament about the state of the nuclear industry.

      Really? I’m listening to the audio.

      “A lament about the state of the nuclear industry?” – I don’t hear that.

      “Ben Heard blamed everyone from lefties…” – No mention of left-or-right. No mention of politics.

      “…to greenies” – I don’t hear that term used either.

      Some would be offended by that term. (Not me, I’m in a Green Party, but whatever.) I am pretty F-ING offended though, that YOU would introduce the term YOURSELF and imply it came out of Ben’s mouth.

      The ONE EXACT TERM that Ben used was “anti-nuclear activists”.

      If you really thought this was an accurate assessment of Ben’s talk, and I suspect you really don’t, it would have been nice to see a clarification on your own blog, right here, where I asked you the question.

      • Giles 6 years ago

        Really? First Ben – maybe on assuming i don’t have video, because that seems to be the thrust of half of his indignant rant against me – makes claim on his blog that he made no mention of state of industry. When i point out that yes i do have a tape, and yes, he did mention state of industry, and lamented anti nuclear activities, then you guys start to debate whether anti-nuclear activists are the same as lefties and greenies. I don’t really care. They are certainly not the right wing commentariat. Meanwhile, the substantial errors that i pointed out go unanswered.

        • gordonmcdowell 6 years ago

          Giles, I am re-re-reading your post. Your description…

          “nuclear cheerleader Ben Heard blamed everyone from lefties to greenies for the current state of the nuclear industry”

          …is wholly inaccurate. I doubt Ben has taken the time to review the audio himself, he just presumed (as I’m sure any reader would have) that you were referring to the talk itself and maybe he missed something in Q&A. What? Oh? Did I?

          Whatever… I don’t care what Ben worries he might have said. I’m worried what he actually said.

          As the editor of the talk, and someone who’s listened to the Q&A, I’d never had any clue what moment you were referring to based on your initial description. That was me having tried specifically to find it in the entire audio file.

          So when you later offered the quote (elsewhere) “There is a brigade of anti nuclear activities globally” followed by a fabrication, I can finally see why I was unable to find the moment in question… yes I found those 8 words. And as soon as your quotes end, the description you use ceases to be accurate.

          I’ve never met Ben in person. I’ve never met you in person. I’m always wondering how reliable any source is. Your summary concerned me.

          Re-read my original question. Imagine me hunting for that.

          Now please direct me to Ben “lamenting the state of the nuclear industry”. Please use a direct quote, don’t quote a few words and then paraphrase. Can you do that for me please?

          YOU SAY (to Ben)…

          in response to a question from Alex Wonhas, you start a one minute lament about the state of the nuclear industry, starting off with: “There is a brigade of anti nuclear activities globally”

          …SO I THINK I KNOW WHEN you are referring to. Now please pull me a quote that matches your description.

          Because I still don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

        • Rod Adams 6 years ago


          I have been studying antinuclear activities for a couple of decades. Though the most vocal, sign-carrying people who oppose nuclear energy may fall into the category of “lefties and greenies,” the most effective, powerful forces that seek to ensure that nuclear energy growth is halted or reversed are often members of the “right wing commentariat.”

          Opposition to nuclear is not always ideological. Instead, it is often quite logical and conservative. For hard nosed, coal, oil, or gas industry leaders, stopping nuclear energy is an economic necessity that is as important to protecting their market dominance as is denying that CO2 emissions are something worth aggressively addressing.

          Ben has appeared on my Atomic Show podcast on several occasions. We have corresponded enough for me to know that he is not pointing to “lefties and greenies” when he says “there is a brigade of anti nuclear activities globally.”

          Rod Adams
          Publisher, Atomic Insights
          Host and producer, the Atomic Show podcast

          • Giles 6 years ago

            Rod, I’be be intrigued to see examples of right wing commentariat arguing against nuclear. I’d also be intrigued to see examples of fossil fuel lobby arguing against nuclear, considering that they both stand to benefit from the retention of the centralised energy model that renewable and distributed generation threaten. Of course, that only applies for those fossil fuel companies that have the balance sheet to carry the risk of building nuclear plants, without the government standing behind them. I can’t think of a single one.

          • Steven 6 years ago

            Rod, I do believe it was you who cast doubts on Caldicott’s assertion that the US’ uranium enrichment plant was a large emitter of CFC-114 (dichloroethylene) or freon. It always intrigues me when fervent nuclear proponents (self-professed experts) dilute official facts that can not be diluted. I wonder how many holes these environmental vandals punched in the ozone? And let’s not forget all the other hazardous chemicals that were despatched to the biosphere with impunity either.

  20. WhatTheFlux 6 years ago

    Giles –

    The way to prove your point on Ben Heard is to post a link to his talk. That way he can hang himself…

    Oh, wait. Gordon McDowell, the guy who videotaped Ben’s talk, left a link to the footage in his comment below.

    Now we can all see what the guy actually said, and find out who’s zooming who.

  21. Ben Heard 6 years ago
  22. turnages 6 years ago

    What’s unreasonable about having a sensible debate on nuclear in Australia? At the moment this is impossible, because it’s actually against the law for a minister to approve a nuclear power plant. It can’t compete on a level playing field, right now there’s no field at all for it to play on.

    Costs would indeed be part of such a sensible debate, which would also include the stratospheric (to put it mildly) costs, environmental as well as financial, of the biomass/solar/wind option doing the heavy lifting for, say, 70% of all electricity. See, for example, for a rough idea of the practicalities of such an approach.

    Only those who are prejudiced against nuclear would want to close down a sensible debate.

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