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Expensive and dangerous: Nuclear doesn’t stack up

Eimear test O'Sullivan

Lifting the ban on nuclear power generation in NSW using unproven small-scale reactors will only push up power bills, damage the environment and compromise safety, according to the Electrical Trades Union.

ETU National and NSW Secretary, Allen Hicks, said nuclear power would be hugely expensive compared to renewable energy, and that small nuclear reactors were still a pipe dream.

The recommendation around small scale reactors is one of 60 contained in the NSW Productivity Commission’s White Paper, which is supposedly designed to reboot the state’s economy.

“The Productivity Commission has lost the plot if it thinks small modular reactors, a technology that has been ‘just around the corner’ since the 1970’s but still doesn’t exist, is the answer to NSW’s productivity growth,” Allen Hicks said.

“Even if someone finally manages to build one that works, the electricity price forecast for their output is six times more expensive than renewables.

“Why does the Productivity Commission want NSW residents paying six times more for their electricity?”

"There are massive offshore wind projects waiting for federal approval off the NSW coast near Newcastle, Wollongong and Eden. Rather than pie-in-the sky nuclear nonsense we should get on with approving this clean energy and getting it into out grid.

The commission says lifting the ban would provide another source of firming capacity in the grid. But its own report admits “a wide degree of uncertainty” about small-scale nuclear reactors, mainly due to cost.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the government “will consider everything” in the report.

But Mr Hicks said the State Government must hit the stop button on nuclear power, as the business model for a dirty and dangerous technology did not stack up.

“Even if they improve the technology, a small modular reactor would take far too long to build, and we don’t have time to waste in the fight against climate change,” Mr Hicks said.

“Globally, most countries are moving away from nuclear power. Few new reactors are being built and nuclear companies are going bankrupt or facing financial distress.

“Nuclear power also has the potential to contribute to weapons proliferation.”

Mr Hicks said the government should instead continue to focus on renewable energy.

“With a bit of foresight, some investment and some big thinkers, Australia is uniquely positioned in the world to become a renewable energy leader.

“Boosting the economy, providing more jobs, and dealing with climate change are big problems, but nuclear power is not the answer.”



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