The SIA, in conjunction with UNSW Canberra, is hosting a single day seminar, aiming to stimulate national discussion on a holistic approach to a nuclear industry.
The Government has committed to building 12 new French designed Attack class submarines in Adelaide. These submarines will be conventionally powered, however the 2016 Defence White Paper foreshadows a review of future submarine technology to be conducted in the 2020s. The Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan includes mention that the 12 new submarines are to be but the first phase of a Rolling Acquisition Program of submarines, effectively a continuous building program. The SIA would like to ensure that the future technology review gives serious consideration to nuclear power as a propulsion option for submarines entering service at some time in the 2040s and beyond.
One of the primary reasons frequently claimed as to why the Navy has not embraced nuclear power to this point, is that Australia does not have a nuclear industry. It appears that whenever nuclear power is considered in Australia, the civil need such as electricity generation and a Defence need, such as for submarine propulsion, are considered in isolation from each other, whereas if considered holistically, the case for a nuclear industry would be stronger.
Speakers and participants in the seminar will include who are both for and against a greater use of nuclear energy in Australia, to, among other things, ensure the discussion and debate is as balanced as possible.