MCA Briefing Note: Nuclear Power Potential in Australia

In light of the renewed calls for an open discussion about the feasibility of nuclear power in Australia, here are 10 key facts regarding nuclear power and Australia’s relationship with this technology.

  1. Nuclear power is a mature and globally deployed power generation technology. There are 436 operable reactors in 30 countries producing around 11 per cent of global electricity.
  2. There are also 56 countries operating a total of 240 smaller reactors for research and training, materials testing, radioisotope production for lifesaving nuclear medicine and industrial applications.2  Australia is one of them with its state of the art OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights.
  3. Despite holding one-third of the world’s reserves of uranium4 , Australia is one of a small number of developed nations without nuclear power in its energy mix. Australia is one of only three of the largest 12 countries in the OECD (in PPP terms5 ) which does not have nuclear energy production. One of the other two is Turkey which is in the process of developing civilian nuclear power.
  4. Nuclear energy is economically competitive. The Australian Energy Technology Assessment (AETA) 2013 update shows nuclear competing with other large generation sources. Out to 2050, AETA ranks gigawatt scale nuclear as the cheapest dispatchable low-carbon generation on offer in Australia (excluding landfill gas and sugarcane waste). Similarly, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows nuclear energy as very competitive with alternative sources.

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