Lifting the nuclear ban could boost NSW’s economy: Commissioner


A report from the New South Wales (NSW) Productivity Commission proposes to ease restrictions on nuclear energy to boost the state’s economic prosperity.

May 31 White paperProvided a list of recommendations to the NSW Government to improve productivity in Australia’s largest state, entitled “Restarting the Economy.” This includes lifting Australia’s national nuclear energy ban to allow the use of small-scale nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power is banned under the 1998 Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act (ARPANS), And the 1999 Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).

The proposed technology, known as the Small Modular Reactor (SMR), is currently being developed in the United States, and NuScale at the forefront was the first company to receive design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Large reactors typically maintain an output of about 1,000 megawatts (MW), but fairly small SMRs typically produce less than 300 MW.

The Epoch Times
An artist’s representation of a NuScale Power small modular reactor plant. (New scale)

The report suggested that small reactors provide a safer, more economically feasible alternative to traditional large reactors and enable potential investment from the private sector.

“High fixed costs and long delivery times [conventional] Reactors tend to be infeasible for retail investors. “” Existing reactors are delivered by state-owned or regulated monopolies, with consumers and taxpayers taking some of the risk. “

SMR, on the other hand, promises modular design. This means that all components of the facility can be pre-manufactured in a specialized facility and assembled on-site, significantly reducing construction costs.

“The small size of the finished module allows us to ship components via the transportation of traditional large objects such as trucks, railroads and barges,” NuScale said. website..

Australia is also the world’s third largest producer of uranium ore, owning about one-third of the world’s uranium resources and reducing operating costs by avoiding the need to import resources from abroad.

However, the proposal faces criticism from anti-nuclear movement groups, including the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), which says SMR technology has not been proven.

“This is not a new technology. Small modular reactors have been around for decades,” ACF’s Dave Sweeney told The Epoch Times. “This technology has existed for decades but has not been applied or developed commercially.”

Currently, private sector SMR projects are not complete, and many countries are delaying or over-budgeting projects funded by them. NuScale’s first under-development project was also delayed by three years to 2030.

Estimates of the cost of capital for SMR systems are very different. New scale It reports an estimated cost to set up a system of $ 4,600 per kilowatt. This is cheaper than regular nuclear power. CSIRO It’s a fairly expensive quote, over $ 16,000 per kilowatt.

Sweeney said focus and investment should shift to energy sources such as wind and solar, not unproven technologies.

“SMR is a dangerous distraction,” Sweeney said. “It will open the door to large-scale public subsidies for unproven and unsuccessful technologies.”

Concerns about nuclear energy have increased after the meltdown of Chernobyl and, more recently, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The SMR claims increased safety, and the reduced chance of catastrophic failure is due to the failsafe mechanism.

The Epoch Times
NuScale Power Operations Supervisor Ryan Flamand (L) and Oregon State University (OSU) Radiation Center Director Steve Reese (R) at OSU’s new E2 Center. (New scale power)

“When needed, NuScale’s SMR automatically shuts down and self-cools indefinitely. No operator intervention is required, no additional water, no AC or DC power,” NuScale said. Shut down.

The report is also a key factor leading to a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, eliminating the need to build facilities near large water sources due to reduced reactor size and water needs. It states that it will reduce the possibility of flooding.

The NSW provincial government sees nuclear power as a means of reducing emissions as part of its plan to achieve net zero by 2050.

Fission, the main process behind nuclear energy production, does not emit carbon dioxide, but the problem of nuclear waste disposal remains. Currently, Australia does not have a facility to store radioactive by-products.

Concerns about the stability of New South Wales’ power grid, even after several power outages were forced after the country’s largest aluminum smelter surged 18,000% in energy prices last month due to the shutdown of a coal-fired power plant. Raised.

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