The fantasy of cheap, safe nuclear energy via IN Daily

Back in the 1970s and 80s, solar and wind energy were expensive and their supporters were criticised by the nuclear industry for dreaming of a renewable energy future.

Nowadays the situation is reversed. Several countries are well on their way to their targets of 80-100 per cent renewable electricity while global nuclear energy generation ceased growing nine years ago.

In northern Europe and the USA wind energy is about half the price of nuclear. In South America contracts to deliver electricity from big solar photovoltaic (PV) power stations are being signed at 8 US cents per kilowatt-hour, already less expensive than nuclear, and the price of solar PV is still declining. In many places, including mainland Australia, rooftop solar is much less expensive than retail electricity from the grid.

The current fantasy is that nuclear energy is cheap, safe, CO2-free and necessary, and that South Australia could make a profit storing the world’s nuclear wastes. All of these claims by enthusiasts for the nuclear fuel cycle, made in submissions to the current Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, are poorly based.

In theory, the geologically stable regions of South Australia could provide a location for storing high-level nuclear wastes. But as yet there are no permanent repositories operating anywhere in the world. It would be crazy for Australia to attempt build one when the USA has failed.

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