The adoption of nuclear power by Australia has moved a step closer this week after nine coalition senators backed laws to remove the nation’s nuclear energy ban.
The legislators have moved to introduce a Private Senators Bill, arguing nuclear power is one of the safest forms of energy and will play a vital role in achieving the nation’s emission targets moving forward.
Senator Matt Canavan said the “mood is shifting” on nuclear energy, as the public and other politicians feel the need to explore all energy options for the future.
“Australia’s unusual legislative ban against nuclear power was moved and debated with less than 30 minutes of debate in the Senate” he said.
At present, nuclear power stations are banned in every state, and in every territory, in the country.
However, Senator Canavan said the appetite for nuclear energy has grown since the government recently agreed to buy nuclear-powered submarines.
“People realised, given the geopolitical situation we faced, whatever hang-ups we had on nuclear energy, we needed them in our submarines,” he said.
Not everyone is in favour of the move – with federal energy minister Chris Bowen saying it was the most expensive form of power Australia could invest in.
Bowen said industry groups suggested Australia would need about 80 nuclear plants to produce the electricity it needed.
However, Senator Canavan said now was the time to open discussions on energy options for the future.
“Australia has made it almost illegal to build baseload coal or gas power stations. We cannot continue to deny our country all reliable power options, including nuclear,” he said.
“The nuclear ban may cause decades of pain if we continue to deny our country reliable power alternatives.”
Arguments were made that across the globe, nuclear power produces double the electricity than that of solar and wind, yet between 1965 and 2018, global investment on solar and wind has reached $2.3 trillion, compared to $2 trillion on nuclear.
Senator Canavan said Australia must follow suit and support nuclear energy as an energy means of the future.
“The world is turning back to nuclear power and there are game changing developments in small modular reactor technology.”
“With the world’s largest uranium reserves, Australia cannot afford to be left out of global nuclear progress,” he said.