The true success of clean, low carbon emissions energy can be found down the pathway of nuclear energy, Robert Parker, the founder of Nuclear Climate for Australia, told an audience of more than 100 people in Armidale.
Mr Parker said nuclear-generated power is reliable, affordable and economical, and he says there are case studies the world over on why it is an option that countries like Canada, South Korea, the United States, Finland and China are using to deliver electricity to their citizens at half the price that Australian consumers pay.
"We see nuclear baseload power as an antidote to a travesty to the New England," Mr Parker told the gathering, referring to the march of planned wind and solar factories into the New England Regional Energy Zone (REZ)
Currently, he said, there are 440 nuclear power plants in operation in the world, with another 60 under construction. Canada is expanding the Bruce Power Plant, which, with an additional 4800 megawatts, will become the biggest plant in the world, generating 11,000MW.
Canada also has four BRWS 300 small nuclear power plants at Darlington, Ontario, with a combined generating capacity of 1200MW. He said constructing the four modular BRWS 300 plants in Ontario uses designs and equipment from General Electric, and each building would be no bigger than a standard Bunnings Warehouse.
Mr Parker said Ontario was a more than helpful study for Australian decision-makers to observe, given its similarities to this country. Ontario has a land area of 1.076 million square kilometres, while the combined size of NSW and Victoria is 1.028m km2. Ontario's population is 14.6 million, while NSW and Victoria are 14.8m.
However, there are also marked differences between the two: Ontario generates 40.3 gigawatts of power, of which 60 per cent is from nuclear power from 18 reactors. In contrast, NSW generates 36.6GW from a declining base of coal-fired stations and from growing wind and solar factories.
Ontario's point of difference is that it has an electricity emissions intensity (EEI) of 25 grams of carbon dioxide emission intensity (CO2e) per kilowatt hour, while NSW and Victoria's EEI is 798 CO2e/kWh.
Mr Parker said economic energy production is vital to every country's economy, and Ontario's manufacturing per annum is $315 billion, while NSW and Victoria is $238b.
In Finland, the story is the same. The Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power station is an ultra-low-cost electricity producer with ultra-low emissions.
"When O3 came online in Finland, the price of electricity dropped 75 per cent," Mr Parker said. "Now 68 per cent of Finns are supporters of nuclear power while only six per cent are against it."
He also compared different energy sources and how many megajoules of energy MJ/E per kg they produce. Liquid natural gas is rated at 55 MJ/E, petrol 45MJ/E and diesel 46MJ/E. A nuclear power plant produces 3,900,000 MJ/E, he said.
He also rated the production from a nuclear plant at 2.47 square km compared to a wind factory producing a similar output of 890ssq/km, and a solar factory would have to employ 3.1M photovoltaic panels.
"Canada is continually upgrading their systems and use their own uranium as a fuel source," Mr Parker said.
He said a BRWS 300 modular plant costs about $1.5 b with a worldwide average build time of 7.5 years.
"Look at the proposed cost of the Hume Link transmission line project with a cost of more than $3.5b.'
He said there was irony in that Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was regarded as a centre-left politician, and the Energy Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, a member of Trudeau's Liberal Party, was regarded as a Green by many of his opponents.
"Why can't we just have a conversation about nuclear power in Australia," Mr Parker said. "I congratulate Peter Dutton and the LNP (Liberal National Party coalition) on taking a position to back nuclear power generation.
"I want to make a declaration here. I was a member of the Australian Labor Party and was pre-selected to stand for the ALP in the seat of Goulburn," he said. "I know there are ALP members who would be happy to look at nuclear power, but party policy silences them.
"Electricity prices to families in Canada are close to half of Australian prices, and it's the same in South Korea, the US and China.
"We must learn and collaborate with these success stories. A system based on nuclear with renewables in the mix is key to low-cost, low-carbon electricity generation.
If we partner with our friends in Canada and South Korea, we can build large and small nuclear plants in Australia. They can be built on our soon-to-be-closed plants like Lake Liddell and Bayswater in the Hunter.
"Australia's anti-nuclear legislation must be removed and with all urgency. We have the solutions now, we can't afford to wait."
One of the forum organisers was Ian McDonald, Walcha, who, with Bev White of Ben Lomond, began to realise the need for the discussion after attending a representative inquiry in Canberra last May calling for abolishing the nuclear moratorium.
Mr McDonald said they were pleased with the attendance, but while invitations had been sent to local high schools and the University of New England, "only a handful of young people were there".
"To me, the take-home message is that we're facing an unprecedented energy crisis," Mr McDonald said.
"We have a real problem in this area with the expansive footprint for wind turbines and solar panels. We know a better alternative exists, and we need people to realise this."
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