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Small modular reactor rhetoric hits a hurdle via Jim Green

The promotion of ‘small modular reactors’ (SMRs) in Australia has been disrupted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The latest GenCost report produced by the two agencies estimates a hopelessly uneconomic construction cost of A$16,304 per kilowatt (kW) for SMRs. But it throws the nuclear lobby a bone by hypothesising a drastic reduction in costs over the next decade.

The A$16,304 estimate has been furiously attacked by, amongst others, conservative politicians involved in a federal nuclear inquiry last year, and the Bright New World (BNW) nuclear lobby group.

The estimate has its origins in a commissioned report written by engineering company GHD. GHD provides the estimate without clearly explaining its origins or basis. And the latest CSIRO/AEMO report does no better than to state that the origins of the estimate are “unclear”.

Thus nuclear lobbyists have leapt on that muddle-headedness and filled the void with their own lowball estimates of SMR costs.

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