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The Case for Reliable Power Generation

 

Many people have personal concerns about the pursuit of green energy by governments, federally and state. The visual intrusion, the land-hungry windfarms and solar panels and the extensive enlargement of the transmission network required to accommodate them have a marked effect on individuals’ environments and livelihoods.  

But the more fundamental issue is the destruction of our economy and living standards from the policies being ruthlessly pursued by both Labor and – sad to say – Coalition parties and governments, although that may change. The South Australian premier is now stating that nuclear power generation needs to be considered in the mix of renewables.  

In pursuit of the myth that emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is bringing about a change in the global climate, throughout the Western world, governments are spending inordinate amounts to damp down usage of coal, gas and oil, which are the cheapest means of generating electricity, the heartbeat of the modern economy. 

Except to the most trivial degree, there has been no global warming or loss of coastlines. There is certainly no evidence of increased extreme events like cold, heat, fires, hurricanes or rain, despite what warmists and their shills would have you believe. And yet we have embarked upon measures that are squeezing our national living standards and, like a tourniquet, are constantly being further tightened. The fact is, we will always have a requirement for fossil fuels, but we will be able to minimize dependence on fossil fuels with renewables, and most importantly nuclear power generation, to provide reliable electricity. Until that time, reliable power can only come from our own coal-fired power stations. 

What our energy minister Bowen doesn’t seem to be able to explain, is why other countries are embracing nuclear power and ramping up nuclear power generation as the only way to achieve net zero emissions and have reliable power. Bowen cannot explain why countries with a mix of nuclear power in their electricity generation have some of the lowest prices in the world, France and Canada being two examples. 

Canada, as with more than 30 other countries, uses civil nuclear power to generate emissions-free 24/7 electricity. Most of its nuclear reactors are in Ontario, a province of 15 million people and 60% of its power supply is from nuclear reactors. Ontario initially looked at renewable power but is now building more nuclear reactors because they are clean, relatively affordable and reliable. 

The energy minister in the Canadian province of Ontario pointed out that, when all the costs were taken into account, such as transmission and batteries etc. for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind is blowing, renewables – at 60c to 80c a kWh – were almost 10 times the cost of nuclear, which is about 8c to 10c a kWh. The minister also pointed out, that a recent plant being built, not far from Toronto, involving four individual 300Mw Small Modular Reactors (SMR), was started in 2022 and is expected to be operational by 2028. The obvious point made was that wind and solar power was only there for 25-35% of the time, yet the modern world needs require reliable electricity 24/7.  

At 15c a kWh, Ontario doesn’t have the cheapest electricity in Canada, but it is still a lot more affordable then both New South Wales and Victoria, where the average price is 34c and 29c respectively. Sounds like a good case to go nuclear. 

If Canada can do it, why can’t we? 

Here we are, closing down our few remaining coal-fired power stations and also failing to utilize and develop gas-fired power just because of CO2 emissions of which we scarcely contribute 1% of the world’s total. The hypocrisy of our government is evident in that we are still prepared to export coal to countries that need it for their coal-fired power stations. China, in particular, is opening up new coal-fired power stations almost weekly. But, if we really do have to get to net zero emissions, plus remain a first world economy and not decimate our living standards, there is only one way to do that and that is via nuclear power. 

With Australia’s reserves of Uranium, it is commonsense for nuclear power to be considered in the mix, particularly if we wish to keep the lights on. 

According to the most recent (and controversial) CSIRO GenCost report, the cost of electricity generated by a hypothetical small modular reactor plant is between $382 and $632 a megawatt hour compared with $91 to $130 per megawatt hour for wind and solar. Note here that these figures don’t include the costs of the additional transmission lines and storage required by wind and solar and that the hypothetical SMR plant (using a failed pilot in Utah, United States) is cherrypicked to give the highest possible numbers. Now CSIRO is not going to go against the government, because it is funded by the government, using stats to support the government is not surprising, albeit disappointing as it takes away any credibility that CSIRO may have. Canada has already proved that point. 

The current solution to reliable power in Australia is from coal-fired power stations, otherwise we will be subjected to higher electricity prices, load shedding and more blackouts.  

Many manufacturers in Australia are going to the wall, either facing liquidation or moving offshore because the cost of power and wage increases makes it no longer profitable to stay in business in Australia. Power generated from wind and solar are intermittent at the best; it is not reliable and batteries cannot provide the base load for industry. 

Government spending in the form of subsidies for renewables is increasing exponentially, at our cost, we the taxpayer, with little gain. Those in the renewables industry view the government as a ‘centrelink’ to promote and invest in renewables. Well, investment is falling away because the return on investment is not there. 

The government has just given $1 billion to a start-up in Australia to manufacture solar panels. Now the two principals behind this are Malcolm Turnbull and Mike Cannon-Brookes, both multimillionaires. The startup is taxpayer funded and yet they are rich enough to put their own money into it – not a chance. It is destined to failure because the majority of solar panels are made in China using coal-fired power generation and there is a surplus of panels just waiting to be distributed. So, more taxpayer money in the form of subsidies will need to be used if these Australian made solar panels are able to compete on the world stage. Two chances of success – Buckley’s and none! 

Take care, be kind to yourself and buy more candles! 

Until next time,  

Gecko Chirps. 

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