Nuclear Electrical Power is Julia’s only real hope

Posted on Fri 12/03/2010 by


Andrew BoltBy Andrew Bolt

As I mentioned in the post at this link yesterday, debate is starting to happen here in Australia about the possibility of introducing Nuclear Electrical Power Generation. Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded to calls in favour of greater debate by hosing it down with a statement that showed her remarkable lack of knowledge on the situation. A debate of this nature is welcomed if not for one thing. It gets people to the point where they are better informed on the situation, instead of listening to the loudest and most hysterical opinions from an equally uninformed Environmentalist Green lobby who oppose it at every turn…..TonyfromOz.

IT may already be too late for Julia Gillard to save her leadership – and even the Government.

But if she wants to stay Prime Minister, one thing is critical.

She must stop telling outrageous untruths about nuclear power, and especially this one, said this week to slap down some of her own MPs:

“Nuclear power doesn’t stack up as an economically efficient source of power.”

That’s either monumentally ignorant or a bald-faced lie. Either way, it may also be the signing of a death warrant.

You see, it’s actually nuclear power—not same-sex marriage—that can save Gillard and Labor from destruction.

Before I nail her lie, here’s a warning to Gillard from yesterday’s paper:

Hundreds of thousands of Victorian households will be forced to pay up to $150 more for electricity and gas from January 1.

And from last week’s:

Rocketing power prices are pushing hundreds of thousands of Victorians into “fuel poverty”. An estimated 211,000 households are already pouring more than 10 per cent of disposable income into electricity bills . . .

But I don’t need to tell Gillard that the bungling and green follies of Labor governments, state and federal, have helped force bills so high that her party may soon be turfed out of office everywhere.

Labor knows, and is desperately trying to wind back the worst green schemes it’s imposed upon the taxpayers now screaming in pain.

Two more signs. Again, from yesterday’s papers:

(Federal Climate Change Minister) Greg Combet has moved to quell anger over rising electricity prices by slashing incentive payments for householders who install solar panels on their roofs.

And from October:

NSW is slashing the gross feed-in tariff for its solar bonus scheme because it is costing too much.

Try $2.5 billion too much.

Even Tasmania, the greenest state, is in revolt against Labor, now down to just 23 per cent of the primary vote, and no wonder, as yet another green power scheme proves a joke.

From yesterday’s Hobart Mercury:

A parliamentary committee scrutinising the operations of Hydro Tasmania was told yesterday that (Tasmanian) Hydro’s wind-farm business, Roaring 40s, had run at a loss for the past five years because there had not been enough wind . . .

Another $13 million down the drain.

Increasingly, the few adults left in the Gillard Government—not least Resources Minister Martin Ferguson—must know the jig is up and only nuclear can save Labor.

The mega-problem is that Labor is still sticking to its mad promise to cut the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, to “save” an impassive planet from man-made global warming.

That may not sound much, but in fact means cutting the gases of every man, woman, child, factory and farting cow by a third.

I know. Crazy.

But, while green power schemes are folding, our hunger for electricity is increasing.

Indeed, Australia’s demand for electricity is expected to double by 2050.

Yet as Ferguson has warned, investment in new power stations has plummeted, because operators of coal-fired ones think the Gillard Government will bring in a carbon tax that will kill them, while operators of cleaner but dearer forms of power fear she won’t, leaving them uncompetitive.

So everyone sits on their hands. It’s the paralysis that is killing our future, years before you’ll really notice.

That’s in large part why Gillard abruptly declared last week that next year she truly ruly will finally announce what she’ll do to put a price on every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted by factories and power stations, to force the gassier ones to go green.

Trouble is, her deadline means she could be promising a carbon tax next year just when Labor is forced to a new election, and won’t dare campaign on a new tax on your electricity.

What a nightmare for Labor. And the last element in this great closing of the trap is the failure to find a workable technology to catch and bury the emissions of our existing coal-fired power stations, to make them “green” without having to scrap them.

Gillard is tipping $100 million a year into this research, but it’s now clear she’ll get nothing useful from it—at least not in time to help her meet Labor’s 2010 target.

So let’s sum up. Labor has promised to cut emissions, but furious voters think they already pay too much.

Labor is desperate for green power, but can’t even afford what it’s subsidising already. And every day of dithering brings us closer to blackouts.

All over red rover, you’d think.

Except for nuclear power, banned by Labor but the only source of green power that can keep our factories humming without driving us broke.

This is why Right-wing MPs, and Ferguson of the Left, are this week demanding at least a debate on ending Labor’s ban on nuclear power stations.

Take Senator Steve Hutchins, who said “it should be part of the (energy) debate if we want to have a clean future”, adding: “I cannot see us returning to living in the cave and burning fallen timber to keep us warm.”

But already punch-drunk from policy failures, internal criticism, a knife-edge Parliament and a year of backbreaking work, Gillard lied. Her quote again:

“Nuclear power doesn’t stack up as an economically efficient source of power.”

Flat-out false. It’s true that nothing is cheaper than our coal-fired power.

Nuclear costs between 20 and 50 per cent more than a new coal-fired plant, so I’d stick with coal. Let’s keep our economy strong, and bills low.

But I’m a climate sceptic like Ferguson, and if Gillard thinks we really must move to green power, then nothing is more “economical efficient” than nuclear power, now responsible for 15 per cent of the world’s electricity, with some 440 reactors in 31 countries.

Nuclear is as greenhouse-friendly as solar, and is around a fifth of the price. And, unlike solar and wind, it’s there when you need it, around the clock.

Hear it from the 2005 report on nuclear power by the federal inquiry chaired by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski: “Nuclear power is the least-cost low-emission technology that can provide baseload power . . .

“Nuclear power is an option that Australia would need to consider seriously among the range of practical options to meet its growing energy demand and to reduce its greenhouse gas signature.”

A direct contradiction of Gillard.

Or read it in the new meta-review of 25 studies of generating technologies conducted by warmist Barry Brook, Adelaide University’s director of climate science, and two co-authors: “The standout technology, from a cost perspective, is nuclear power . . .

“Importantly, it is the only fit-for-service baseload technology that can deliver the 2050 emission reduction targets.” Again, Gillard contradicted.

The review goes on: solar is absurdly expensive, wind too costly and unreliable; geothermal too doubtful.

No one can yet fix a price for carbon capture technologies for existing coal-fired stations. New “clean coal” stations won’t be much cheaper than nuclear, but would be much gassier. And even “clean” gas is still, well, gassy.

So, no, it’s nuclear or nothing, and I’d bet half Gillard’s Cabinet knows it, but dares not speak for fear of destroying her already shaky leadership.

Forget all the old arguments against nuclear, now shrieked by the Greens. No, nuclear power stations are not too dangerous.

The only fatal accident occurred 24 years ago, in a shockingly designed and run Soviet reactor at Chernobyl, and the total lives lost, according to the Chernobyl Forum of United Nations and European agencies, was around 60.

That’s right. Not the 40,000 deaths once recklessly claimed by Climate Minister Peter Garrett, who made a career out of demonising nuclear power.

Just 60, or twice the number of people who died last month in a single coal mine explosion in New Zealand.

Nor is nuclear waste now a problem. Thorium reactors, now in development, produce a fraction of the waste of the old reactors, of such low level that it’s just ash after 500 years.

Even better, they can eat old nuclear waste, while new fast-breeder reactors run on waste they themselves produce.

Any waste left by even more conventional reactors can be sealed in Synroc, another Australian invention.

What else do the mindless objectors to nuclear power need to understand? Just think of the planet, you in the beanie: a brown-coal generator needs more than 5 million tonnes of ore each year, all gouged from your sacred earth, but a same-sized nuclear one needs just 50,000 tonnes. Get the green picture?

And that makes Gillard’s preposterous untruth about nuclear even more unforgivable.

Only a green mystic or utter dill could justify a ban on nuclear power, which makes the issue such a great weapon to prove the idiocy of the Greens and the principles (at last!) of Labor.

Here is how Gillard can fight the party that’s won over so many Labor supporters by promising airy dreams with nightmare costs.

And, incidentally, here’s how she can slash our emissions, too, just like she promised – but without completely buggering up the economy in her warming crusade.

If only she had the guts to see it.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and is a regular commentator on Channel 9′s Today show and ABC TV’s Insiders. He will be heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of new radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.