Letter to the Editor: Stop scaremongering over nuclear power

DEAR News Of The Area,

THERE was some fear mongering but also genuine questions about nuclear energy in last week’s Opinion section.

After 45 engineering years in power generation across the Hunter, now retired in the Port Stephens area, I naturally have an interest in the transition towards decarbonising the energy system.

Support for domestic nuclear energy in the mix is in direct response to ALP’s ideological pursuit for over 80 percent solar and wind renewables by 2030, some twenty years before the agreed Net Zero target of 2050.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), has an Integrated System Plan (ISP) that supports future renewables however emphasises the reliability risk as fossil fuel inputs (current power stations and gas turbines) are retired.

AEMO’s ISP considers four options to firm our future energy reliability.

Overbuild solar and wind which is costly with environmental impacts.

Install more gas turbines which are fossil fuel based.

Use Green Hydrogen which doesn’t yet exist at scale.

And lastly install small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) at retiring power plant sites.

AEMO notes traditional large nuclear plants aren’t fit for purpose in the Australian context.

Australia will soon have nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement yet has a standing ban on nuclear energy.

This will clearly have to change, noting that at Lucas Heights in Sydney a small nuclear reactor, used for medical purposes, has operated without incident for 60 years.

The reality of solar and wind energy is that it’s intermittent.

On average it’s rated output is only available two days out of every five days to keep explanations simple.

Apart from more gas into the system, which is a fossil fuel, SMR nuclear technology is the only current fit for purpose option to complement intermittent renewables, providing 60 to 80 years of zero emission electricity 24 hours of every day and independent of the weather.

Rolls Royce has been supplying small modular submarine reactors to Navy fleets for over 60 years and are targeting their first domestic SMR shipments into the EU at the end of 2025 as factory production ramps up.

SMR’s are NOT anything like traditional large-scale reactors by design.

SMRs do not take fifteen to 20 years to build, traditional reactors do.

New technology SMRs are factory built along production lines, transported to very small physical sites, assembled, fuelled, then are ready to go.

Additional SMR units are simply installed one after another as energy demand increases.

It’s a “plug and play” design for quick scalability.

This is occurring around the world right now, irrespective of Australia, remembering that the sun, which is powering every solar panel on earth, is one giant nuclear reactor.

There is no need to be unnecessarily concerned with this technology.

That’s just scaremongering for no purpose.

Tea Gardens.

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