The barriers to nuclear power in Australia should be removed to enable it to be considered as an option for energy production, with small modular reactors (SMRs) particularly suitable for powering mines and towns in the country ’s more remote areas, a think tank has said.
In a submission to the government’s energy white paper, the Energy Policy Institute of Australia said there are significant technological advances in safe nuclear power generation.
In particular, factory-produced, SMRs are faster to install and are less capital-intensive than larger, traditional nuclear power plants. “SMRs are considered suitable for powering mines and towns in remote locations in many parts of Australia,” the submission said.
The institute also called on “all discriminatory and market-distorting measures” to be eliminated.
“Such measures include, on the one hand, arbitrary renewable targets and, on the other, the banning of fracking processes in oil and gas production and the prohibition of uranium mining and nuclear power production.”
Nuclear power is used in over 30 countries, the submission said. It produces almost zero emissions and is “fully dispatchable”, in contrast with renewables which rely on natural forces and tend to be intermittent.
The institute urged the government to broaden the powers of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (Arpansa) as an independent regulator.
Australia’s government has insisted it has no intention of introducing nuclear power to Australia despite releasing a paper that states the technology continues to be an option for “future reliable energy”.
A December 2013 issues paper released by the Department of Industry, which will inform the upcoming energy white paper, said that the need for low-carbon fuels means that nuclear is an option that can be “readily dispatched into the market”.
Australia does not have any commercial nuclear plants, but its known uranium resources are the world’s largest. It is the world’s third-ranking uranium producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada.