Nuclear the answer

DOZENS of small, modular nuclear reactors will be dotted around Australia by 2030, a world energy authority says following the federal government’s Energy Green Paper. BEN Global reports

Staff Reporter

Engineers Australia nuclear engineering panel chair Tony Irwin said nuclear power was back on the table.

“Small modular reactors could really be a game-changer for Australia [as] they are particularly suitable for remote areas and small transmission grids,” he said.

Irwin spent 30 years in the UK operating large-scale nuclear plants before joining the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

He is talking at the All-Energy Australia conference next week about nuclear energy, with SMRs “economically commensurate” with other energy generation technologies.

In fact, the Australian energy technology assessment conducted by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics last year found nuclear was the lowest cost baseload low emissions technology.

“They cost about $5 million per megawatt installed, with a typical plant about 100 megawatts, so that equates to an outlay of half a billion dollars in today’s terms,” Irwin said.

Australia should be in a position to build small nuclear power stations by 2020, just as it will be looking for new electricity generation.

Irwin singled out Olympic Dam in South Australia as a perfect site for one of the readily transportable modular nuclear power plants.

“There are also a lot of other places at the edge of the grid in rural and remote Australia that need energy support,” he noted.