Thu. Aug 22nd, 2019

Australia’s first inquiry into the use of nuclear power in more than a decade

The highly contentious debate has been formally reopened by the government on nuclear power by bringing up the issue to a parliamentary committee, with it to report by the end of 2019.

Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister has called the House of Representatives standing committee on the energy and environment to inquire into the nuclear fuel cycle, which will be the first inquiry into the use of nuclear power in more than ten years.

It will be considering the environmental, economic, and safety questions involved in nuclear power.

The present policy of the government is a moratorium on nuclear power, & Taylor reiterated that.

The move was immediately attacked for an inquiry, which follows some backbench stirring in Coalition ranks, including from Nationals Keith Pitt and Barnaby & and James McGrath, the Liberal senator. Parliament was told by Pitt last month that no one is proposing that we build nuclear reactors tomorrow, however, we need to be able to look at technologies as they change.

The director of Energy Program at the Grattan Institute, Tony Wood stated that an inquiry made sense, in terms of keeping the long term options open.

Wood said that the transition of Australia to a zero-emissions energy system was most likely to be dominated by solar & wind power supported by gas, battery storage and pumped hydro.

He added that nuclear technology at present is expensive & comes in one size; XXL. Yet there is a condition in which things might change. If the reliability and cost in a very high renewables world become problematic & there is noteworthy progress towards commercially feasible small scale nuclear reactors, they might be a serious possibility.

Hence it makes sense for the government of Australia to understand & track these developments if only to keep the option open, he added.