|New nuclear technology should be explored for Australia if we are serious about tackling climate change and maintaining Australia's economic competitiveness, a new CEDA report released today has found.|
CEDA's policy perspective, Australia's Nuclear Options, draws together five leaders in the nuclear field to explore nuclear technology, its economics, opportunities in the fuel cycle and its possible use to mitigate carbon emissions.
CEDA Chief Executive, Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin, said with the carbon tax passing the Senate this week, it was time Australia got serious about how it was going to deliver clean, low-cost, reliable energy.
"Previously, with abundant and cheap alternative sources of energy such as coal or gas, nuclear was not an option that needed to be considered. However, the need to address climate change has altered the ball game," he said.
"Despite public unease with nuclear, CEDA has chosen to examine this issue because the current public policy debate on how to decarbonise our economy relies on significant technological and cost breakthroughs surrounding renewable energy technologies, with no back-up options.
"Renewables are likely to be the end game, but if the technological breakthroughs do not come quickly enough, then in coming decades Australians will be faced with skyrocketing electricity prices or an energy supply shortfall.
"Both would have serious ramifications for Australia's future economic prosperity, impacting on all Australians from individual households to big business.
"Nuclear provides the obvious back-up option, it has almost zero-emissions, its technology is proven and we have an abundant supply of uranium - the world's largest reserves - already being mined and exported to other countries to use as a low emission energy source.
"There have been significant advances in nuclear energy technology, both in terms of producing significantly reduced waste and safety features that would preclude nuclear accidents of the past.
"What we need now is political leadership from all sides of politics to allow a rational debate, not one based on vested interests, ideological views or outdated information and technology, but on current and projected technological and economic options available.
"With many Australian families and businesses concerned about the impact of pricing carbon emissions and rising electricity costs new technological advances in nuclear may offer options that will allow us to reduce our environmental footprint while also minimising energy price increases."
Australia's Nuclear Options is the first policy perspective to be released as part of CEDA's Australia's Energy Options research series, which is also exploring renewables and efficiency, and unconventional energy.
For snapshots from Australia's Nuclear Options click here.