Friday, 29 February 2008

Call for public submissions to the "Australia 2020" summit

The federal government is calling for written submissions from the public to the Australia 2020 summit.

Contributing a submission to the Australia 2020 Summit is a way for all Australians to be involved in bringing the best ideas forward to address Australia’s long term challenges.

You can make your written submission online here.

Here's your chance to put forward to the Rudd government your views on the best options to meet Australia's energy needs into the future, the solutions to the issue of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions concerns, and the role that nuclear energy has to play in these solutions.

Of course, there are lots of other areas which you may wish to speak up about, as well as these important energy and environmental issues.

I urge all Australians to make the most of this opportunity to make your thoughts known.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

WA Opposition urges consideration of nuclear

Shadow energy minister John Day said the Carpenter Government needed to accept nuclear energy as a part of the long-term solution and reconsider its opposition.

Complete story from

Polarised politicians rarely make for 'tough decisions' or tangible action. Day's words are worthy of consideration and I'm glad he's mustering the courage to make the point while so many are happy to brush nuclear off the table for shorter term political or financial gains. There's a saying that I believe is attributed to native Americans; something about not inheriting the world from our parents but rather borrowing it from our children.

Our poor kids.

I made a comment on this article from the ABC. In my comment, I pointed out that many Australians [a majority if the last election can be used as an indication] feel the risks associated with nuclear power outweigh those related to climate change. Since there have been no deaths resulting from nuclear energy production, in the United States for example - home to more reactors than any other country, during about 40 or so years of commercial nuclear power; we can remain confident that climate change is really nothing to worry about. Similar performance records are found in other countries employing western facility designs [France, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, China, Korea, etc.]. For more, see the article.

As Garnaut is trying to emphasise; Australia is to suffer the most sever consequences from our lack of leadership, lack of ingenuity and - I regret to say - our lack of courage.

From this article on a new solar plant coming to Victoria in 2013 thanks to TRUenergy [good, just not enough].

TRUenergy pledged last year not to construct any more coal powered stations, is the only Australian energy company to commit to reducing emissions by 60% by 2050 but doubts Professor Garnaut's target was achievable.

"To have a 90% reduction by 2050 would mean completely new technologies in terms of renewables and would need existing fossil-fuel technologies, whether coal or gas, to be linked in with carbon capture and storage. Unless those new technologies are available and unless the CCS capabilities are available, and in the absence of anything like nuclear power, then that 90% reduction would be difficult to achieve," [TRUenergy's managing director, Richard McIndoe] said.
We simply can not get there from here without nuclear power.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Garnaut - Australia 'most vulnerable' to climate change

A report by economist Ross Garnaut has warned Australia must take a lead role in tackling climate change or risk becoming the most badly damaged country in the developed world.

Full report from the ABC

Things are getting worse, problems are accelerating, more action is required and this action must start sooner.

"[Garnaut] says Australia needs to play a lead role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by going beyond its stated target of a 60 per cent cut by 2050."

"[Penny Wong] says Labor will not go past its election commitment of a 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050."

"Obviously unlike the previous government we have said we would be cognisant of the science," she said.

[??? - But what if the science tells us to go beyond a 60 percent cut, which many suggest it does?? And how long must we wait for Labor to stop riding the 'previous government was very, very poor' wave. Myself, I think the topic was fully played many weeks ago.]

Nothing cries 'leading roll' more than cleaning up one's own house. No technology on the planet has the demonstrated potential to displace more carbon emissions than nuclear power.

More information

Find the interim report here

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Germany's nuclear power options

In Germany - long renowned as the stalwart, nuclear phase-out poster country - the winds appear to be changing.

Not only is EOn CEO Wulf Bernotat calling the phase-out plan incomprehensible as reported here by World Nuclear News, but Germany has also proposed a multi-national enrichment facility.

Many nuclear bloggers have picked up on [what I think was initially NEI’s theme] ‘another pro-nuclear blogger’. I’ve often cited ‘environmental conversions’. What’s this now, another nation for nuclear power? Consider that in the past year or maybe just a bit more, major shifts in nuclear polity have occurred in Sweden, the UK, the USA and even in Australia [elimination of 3 mines]. And, there are many, many others.

Looks like the world – or at least a significant part of it – is getting serious about no/low emissions technologies in the context of global energy security challenges.


More information

IAEA Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

FutureGen - the fizzle heard round the world

After Washington Pulls Plug on FutureGen, Clean Coal Hopes Flicker.

Full story from The Wall Street Journal

The crippling blow dealt this week to FutureGen, the U.S. government's marquee effort to develop a "clean coal" power plant, will make it harder for the utility sector to slash carbon-dioxide emissions and keep coal in the mix over time as a cheap electricity source. It could also help push the nation toward greater reliance on nuclear power.

On Wednesday, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the Bush administration was yanking its support for the project, whose price tag had ballooned to $1.8 billion, nearly double original estimates. Energy Department officials said it was time to confront the cost issue, before equipment was ordered. Clay Sell, deputy energy secretary, said the easier, less-responsible path would have been to pretend everything was fine "and then when the thing went south, I could have blamed the next administration for failing to bring this good idea to fruition."

FutureGen may not be dead; at best it has been significantly delayed. If this ups the pressure for nuclear power in the United States, Australia - being even more dependant on coal as an energy source - will naturally endure the same as will other big coal burners such as India, China and the energy beleaguered South Africa to name a few.

It's either nuclear, economic ruin, or continued emissions increases [in a somewhat dire context for emissions reductions according to many experts]. I never thought of FutureGen, clean coal, etc. as a competitor to a nuclear Australia, but merely one of many technologies that might be deployed [once the technology was actually developed] in parallel to achieve the aggressive emission reduction goals being pushed by different scientific bodies.

We are constantly told that we must achieve emissions reduction goals that are becoming more aggressive with each passing year [Is it 80% of 1990 levels now?], while our tangible progress grinds to a continuously slowing dribble. What tangible emission reduction action there has been - particularly here in Australia - is great, but mostly symbolic. We need MUCH more, on a scale that will matter.

Garnaut is predicted to weigh in on the side of clean-coal and longer reduction goals. At the same time, promises of clean-coal are accepted as justification for new power stations around the country. We have a lot riding on the 'hope' of this technology in the midst of a no-confidence vote from the US Department of Energy.

And nuclear power is the white elephant in the room?

More information

FutureGen Alliance

FutureGen US DOE

Monday, 4 February 2008

UK - Discussion on nuclear power

BBC Discovery's Sue Nelson is joined by three experts in the field of nuclear power generation to discuss the reasons for the revival of nuclear power in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

Listen to the full programme here [~26 minutes].

Her guests are:

Malcolm Grimston, Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Development Programme, Chatham House.

Professor Robin Grimes, Imperial College, London, and principle investigator on the Keeping the Nuclear Option Open initiative KNOO.

Dr Paul Norman, Head of Physics & Technology of Nuclear Reactors, University of Birmingham.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Garnaut's vission not 2020

Professor and senior economist Ross Garnaut is currently writing a report for the Federal Government on climate change. He's recently dropped some hints that are bound to irritate a few scientific bodies as well as a large portion of the electorate that put Kevin Rudd on the throne.

Full report from ABC.

Professor Garnaut says he does not want strict gas reduction targets brought in in the early years of the scheme.

He says it is most important that gases are reduced over a period of more like 40 years, and favours letting the market decide how quickly to cut emissions.
But according to this report from The Age, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has just committed Australia to setting 2020 targets despite the opinions of Prof. Garnaut. 'Experts' are predicting a target of 13 to 15% reduction from of 1990 emission levels by 2020. Considering Australia is already 8% beyond 1990 levels, this means an effective cut by about 20% of current emissions by 2020.

I don't believe in reinventing a wheel, so I'll stop here and refer to this post at The Oil Drum for further reading. In particular I liked the Crikey piece about the timing of target implementation, the 'myopic' approach of Australian business, and how the Australian public is backing targets and emission reductions 'now'.

The two lines of thought, logic, etc. are a sustained and vibrant economy and a globally sustainable environmental policy - nothing new to this discussion. At the moment, there appears to be no point of intersection for the two. It's a choice - either adopt emissions reduction policies and suffer with higher energy costs and the predicted economic slowdown; or make the economy the priority and endure international, environmental criticism [which could include emissions related trade penalties that could very well erode our economy in any case].

The pressure for deployable, safe, reliable no/low emissions energy [lots of energy] continues to grow while Rudd has his deputies do the talking. Any way you slice these issues, there are some very tough decisions to be made and a large part of the electorate is bound to be very disappointed if not completely infuriated.

If he’s lucky, Rudd may be able to effectively ignore the issue [and/or delegate it down the political food-chain] through the next election cycle. But with the continually increasing attention, scrutiny and pressure coming from such a diverse array of global interests and perspectives [nannies to Nobel Laureates]; I can’t personally imagine survival without significant, tangible action.

Union leader and a nuclear Australia

The new leader of the AWU wants security for Australian manufacturing businesses and jobs. That means high quality, reliable power - and lots of it, which probably means nuclear in the coming, low carbon world.

See the full report from The Age.

Paul Howes is the new national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, the nation's biggest and most powerful blue-collar union. He was recently invited to the University of California, San Diego, and Stanford University to take part in the Australia-America Leadership Dialogue.

These days he insists Australia has to have cheap energy to ensure it maintains a manufacturing industry and advocates a bipartisan debate on whether Australia should embrace nuclear power. "No one with any credibility disputes climate change," he says.

"If we are going to be a country that makes things — and we have to be — then we need power, we need power that doesn't produce excessive greenhouse gases, and so we have to look at nuclear power.

Paul is not alone in his left-leaning support for nuclear power. Gweneth Cravens, Stewart Brand and Patrick Moore as well as bloggers NNadir at DailyKos, Left Atomics, Robert Merkel and Nuclear Green [added after receipt of the comment below - thanks Charles] are some other examples.

More and more left-leaning political, social and environmental leaders are coming to appreciate the true potential of safe, reliable nuclear generated electricity.