Transparency over nuclear energy

(Andrew Downing) #41

I probably assumed too much when I originally mentioned this.

“Modular” - means you make up your power plant in modules, each self contained. You could run many in one site for concentrated capacity, or as distributed as you see fit.
You also get to just do maintenance on a rotating basis with little lost capacity etc.

Modular is a site design strategy.

(Tim Challis) #42

Apologies. I missed that point.

(miles_w) #43

Chiming in to plug for fusion. It’s not ready for domestic rollout but there will be commercially viable plants popping up in Europe over the next couple of decades. I’d even support research grants for it in Aus (obscenely expensive as they are) but at the moment we have perfectly viable renewables which are ready to go now.


Let’s work on the best case scenario here for Nuclear power: Say we were to get another state with tonnes of experience to build us a huge cluster of the latest, most efficient, least waste, safest, fully enclosed reactors installed underground in a remote location with no concerns for the water table there, a secure water supply, plenty of space on-site for waste disposal, enough generation to supply the entire country even with line loss and top shelf security and intelligence to keep it safe.

How much is the actual price of electricity going to be without subsidies compared to alternatives and how will that comparison change over time?

(Andrew Downing) #45

MarkG shared a great link to me recently …

This looks like a far more feasible research strategy for Fusion to me. On this scale, Australia could get involved.

It’s a long video, but TL;DR …

Much better super conductors are allowing massively more powerful, smaller and stable containment for fusion plasma. The result is that we can proceed with fusion research on much smaller scales than previous.
Many problems remain, but not as decades scale projects any more.

(Jesse Greenslade) #46

Regarding the point ‘Plentiful Fuel’, at current usage rates we have around 90 years of fissile U left for reactors (assuming seeding technology is not improved) .

“Current usage is about 63,000 tU/yr. Thus the world’s present measured resources of uranium (5.7 Mt) in the cost category less than three times present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for about 90 years”

(Andrew Downing) #47 solved that problem.


No. I’m complaining that the lifespan estimate used in those LCOE calculations was significantly shorter than the design lifespans of real world nuclear power plants, thus throwing off the results. Those real world design lifespans potentially also being underestimates is something I’m happy to ignore for the moment.

Even if nuclear power is uneconomical now, which I’m not remotely convinced of as per above, then using that as justification to keep it banned is both unnecessary and a self fulfilling prophecy.

Unnecessary, because if it’s uneconomical it won’t be built.

Self fulfilling, because if you keep nuclear banned then there is no room for improvement. Not even the low hanging fruit of prototypes from the 60s that were killed for political reasons. So regardless of whether nuclear is or isn’t economical it certainly won’t be after a few more decades of that sort of thing.

Not sure why you’re insisting on public ownership either. That’s what regulations were invented for, and centralised electricity production will always be a heavily regulated market in a country the size of Australia (if the government is doing its job properly) anyway.

Have a datapoint. Alice Springs, population 28000, and thus probably fitting most peoples’ definition of a medium sized country town, peaks at around 55MW.

(Not that nuclear should be used there. Alice Springs is one of the most appropriate places in the country to run entirely on solar.)


But is it actually banned though? Or just hasn’t been done.

We don’t have anything in our policies calling for a ban, it’s not even mentioned.

I’d certainly be open to Nuclear if there is a leap in technology which makes it economically viable (without sacrifice of safety/environment/security etc.), in fact I would want us to jump onto early to establish ourselves as a leader in the sector.

But without limiting future options, I don’t see it as an issue until such a time comes.

(Jesse Hermans) #50

If you’ve got LCOE calculations from elsewhere which are to the contrary of what I’ve provided, by all means feel free to show them. More information is always better. I don’t come up the figures here, I just go off what other people have come up with.

This is where the debate becomes circular, I’ve already explained why have issues with private operators of nuclear power:

It’s not self fulfilling if nuclear suddenly becomes more competitive due to some sort of revolutionary development. My issue is with private operators of nuclear power - I have no issue with public operation but I don’t see how it makes any sense for the government to develop it given how big the subsidies would need to be to make it happen vs the current declining cost curve if renewables.


Oh yeah, it’s banned. With additional legislation issues in SA and Vic. There was a recent Royal Commission in SA that had repealing said ban as one of its recommendations. (Side note: Why must websites use horribly low contrast text? Why!?)

I think the only nuclear power plant ever built in Australia was Lucas Heights? Which isn’t commercial electricity production scale.

In one of my previous posts I linked Wikipedia as a metasource for a whole bunch of LCOE comparisons. Results vary, and without looking deeper it depends who you want to believe. Myself, I’m going to try recalculating the results from the paper you linked.

(Jesse Hermans) #52

Well of course results vary country to country. Some countries have better nuclear industries and inferior renewable and fossil fuel endowments. LCOEs cary from country to country because their circumstances are different. If we’re going to compare LCOEs they need to be in the Australian context. I know CSIRO did some estimates before the more recent paper I linked, which were more nuclear friendly, but apparently they needed to be updated and revised.
Additionally those charts I posted had bar graphs indicating best case and worst case estimates, so I doubt that they have no credibility in terms of estimating a range of possibilities.

(Mark) #53

Yet none of the serious accidents could have possibly happened in a modern reactor. It goes beyond human error, those kinds of meltdowns are impossible at the level of fundamental design and the laws of physics. A modern phone has nothing in common with a 50 year old phone and the same is true of reactors.

And there you find the ultimate pointlessness and stupidity of organised climate change denial. The science is and always will be beyond their ken, so their sole legacy has been to push Australia to the most expensive, least effective responses. Pack of numpties really.

(Jesse Hermans) #54

Exactly. Fundamental problem is once one side of politics adopts carbon pricing as a policy the entire market prices it in regardless. This is where the stupidity of playing partisan politics with emissions and energy policy got them nowhere. Instead of trying to push for a completely politically unfeasible and discredible policy of “do nothing”, they should’ve pushed for “do the absolute bare minimum in the most efficient way possible”.
It’s the one thing I learnt in my time in Air Force Cadets. You’ll never get away with doing nothing, so it’s better quickly take all the easy jobs and try to look busy so you can get away with the least effort feasible.

(Tim Challis) #55

Lucas Heights (HIFAR; later OPAL) was only ever intended to be a research site with a sideline of being located a short flight-time from the major hospitals so that radioactive isotopes could be feasibly supplied for nuclear medicine use. Power generation was not on its agenda at all.

On the other hand construction was commenced (but never got beyond laying of foundations) on Commonwealth land at Jervis Bay. There is a decent entry on Wikipedia. I believe it was intended to be a fast-breeder style reactor capable of producing both power and military fissile materials - but my recollection is imperfect so corrections welcomed.

(John August) #56

I realize there’s a source at the bottom of the tables, but could you give me a link to the actual original documents and analysis ?

(Jesse Hermans) #57

(John August) #58

Gives me a 404 not found error.

(Jesse Hermans) #59

Huh… Weird.
Good thing I saved a copy on my OneDrive:!AgzvjL7wTryQrl5P1DXMX8A9dMT8

(Jesse Hermans) #60

It comes from here: