Wednesday, November 22, 2006

nuclear power in Australia

From Crikey: If a government wanted to figure out how best to defend the country, it wouldn’t hold an inquiry into the air force. It would hold an inquiry into … defence. So if a government wanted to figure out how to plan for responsible energy consumption in an age of climate change you’d assume it would hold an inquiry into energy consumption. Instead, the Australian government holds an inquiry into … nuclear energy.

The above really says it all. The Liberal government has decided that they want to get nuclear reactors regardless of what the citizens want. Surprisingly the Switkowski report was not very positive towards nuclear power. It concluded that producing 1/3 of Australia's electricity requirements would require 25 nuclear power plants, and that they would have to be built close to population centers, and mainly on the east cost. I guess that means about 8 reactors for Melbourne and about 10 for Sydney! It has been suggested that the federal government could force nuclear power on the states even if the state governments don't want it!

For those reactors to be economically viable
a carbon tax is required (this means taxing all energy sources on the amount of carbon that they release into the atmosphere). The Liberal government has been opposing such a tax but now the report they commissioned recommends it.

The Victorian branch of the Liberal party seems to support such things. I have been walking past the office of Ted Baillieu (the leader of the Victorian Liberal party) on my way to work. He has a sign in his office window opposing wind power so I guess he'll be supporting nuclear power.

It's something to keep in mind at the election on Saturday. I'll be handing out how to vote cards for the Greens.


John Hughes ( said...

...concluded that producing 1/3 of Australia's electricity requirements would require 25 nuclear power plants,

Huh? 25 plants to produce 1/3 of the power for 20 million people? (Therefore 75 plants for 100%)

France (pop 60m) makes 75% of it's electrity with 59 plants. (So 73 plants for 100%)

So an Aussie uses 3 times the electrity of a Frog?

Russ said...

Really depends on the size of the plant. I can buy an Aussie using 3 times as much power as a frog because of the desert environment. However, there are 60m people in France, and only 20m in Australia.

By my math, you would only need 5 or six plants to cover the power needs of the entire country. Palo Verde ( is an excellent example station. It serves 4m people who live in a desert environment, and is not near any major body of water.

All these hippies with knee jerk reactions to nukes.

Anonymous said...

Russ, I'm thinking of hitting the green vote this year. Can you provide the how-to-vote on your blog as well.

John Hughes said...

Russ, the 59 French plants is 59 reactors. Palo Verde is 3 largish (1,270 megawatts electrical) reactors. (New French plants are to be 1630 MWe reactors).

Your 5-6 plants would be 15-18 reactors, or about 1/3 of the French capacity for 1/3 of the population.

Funny how our numbers add up and the Aussie report is way out.

etbe said...

The above URL indicates that 11.5% of Australian energy is used by homes. So the real issue is comparing industrial use of electricity in Australia vs in France.

If France had aluminium smelters with government subsidised electricity then I'm sure that they would need more nuclear reactors!

In a quick google search I couldn't find a good reference comparing industrial electricity use. Let me know if you find one.

John Hughes said...

Ok, I've found a source ( that claims Aussie electricty consumption is 10,199 kWh per capita, vs Froggies at 7700 kWh per capita. So either you're smelting a lot of aluminium or you've got the airconditioning set too cold.

(i.e. an Aussie uses 32% more electricity than a Frog).

So you should need a few more plants than I estimated, but I still can't see any need for 25 decent sized ones.

JudgeWinchester said...

25 would be to account for increased electricity consumption by the time they are built.