Input to Federal Inquiry: Nuclear not needed now, but might be necessary later

31.10.19

A UNSW Canberra academic has given evidence to the Federal Inquiry into the Prerequisites for Nuclear Energy in Australia.

Associate Professor Heiko Timmers was invited to give evidence to the inquiry examining circumstances and prerequisites necessary for any future government's consideration of nuclear energy generation.

The hearing discussed issues around Australia’s nuclear future, climate change and the energy solutions to addressing this problem.

Associate Professor Timmers said that the suggestion to run Australian electricity generation on 100 per cent renewables hinges heavily on the capability of the country to install the required electricity storage capability.

“Australia should ride the present boom of renewable electricity generation and back it by vigorous investments in grid fortification, improved interconnections and pumped-hydro storage,” he said.

He also stated that although not immediately needed here, nuclear electricity generation can be expected to persist in other countries at present levels beyond 2050.

“Australia's supply of uranium fuel for those power stations is an important contribution to carbon dioxide abatement. In the long-term nuclear may also become relevant in Australia to supplement renewables.

“This might be necessary, if climate extremes force us to desalinate water and to use electricity also for heating and mobility,” he said.

Associate Professor Timmers said that Australia needs to engage more with nuclear technologies now in order to make good decisions on nuclear power in the future.

“The lead time to establish nuclear power generation is much longer, for example, then building electricity storage or renewables. Opportunities exist in increased research involvement, radioactive waste storage, nuclear submarines and a larger market share in the uranium export business.”

The full transcript of the inquiry can be found on the Parliament House website.

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