The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has welcomed comments by the Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, that indicate the Morrison government is open to reversing the nuclear energy ban if a “clear business case” showed the economics of such plants were sound.
Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, said the approach to power generation should be technology neutral, provided generation systems meet standards for safety, reliability and emissions. Nuclear power could be considered alongside other options for low emissions energy, such as renewables and hydrogen.
“Importantly, it should be the market that decides which technology to deploy, subject to all relevant regulations and standards being satisfied. Those decisions will need to consider the full range of economic, social and environmental issues associated with a particular power option over its full life cycle,” Professor Bradlow said.
“Australia should not rule out using any viable energy sources, particularly those where the technology is advancing rapidly.”
Professor Bradlow said a new generation of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors was emerging which aimed to address many of the concerns related to nuclear power plants.
“For example, they are designed to be fail-safe and shut themselves down even in the absence of power, thus avoiding the sort of meltdown that occurred at Fukushima. They also reuse spent fuel and thus reduce the amount of high-level waste that needs to be disposed of.
“Because of their small modular nature they are economically much more flexible than existing large scale nuclear power plants.”
Professor Bradlow said the Academy was ready to contribute to the further development of evidence-based energy policy.
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The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy operating as an independent, non-political and expert think tank that helps Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.