SUBMISSION TO THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN ROYAL COMMISSION INTO THE NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE - ISSUE PAPER #3

The MCA appreciates the opportunity to make a submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission with respect to Terms of Reference 3 relating to Electricity Generation:

“The feasibility of establishing and operating facilities to generate electricity from nuclear fuels in South Australia, the circumstances necessary for that to occur and to be viable, the relative advantages and disadvantages of generating electricity from nuclear fuels as opposed to other
sources (including greenhouse gas emissions), the risks and opportunities associated with that activity (including its impact on renewables sources and the electricity market), and the measures that might be required to facilitate and regulate their establishment and operation”

The MCA strongly supports the consideration of nuclear energy as part of South Australia’s and Australia’s electricity mix.
Nuclear power is a well-established, globally deployed technology capable of providing low emissions, reliable electricity supply in the decades ahead.

The MCA submits that Australia and South Australia must strive to develop reliable electricity supply systems which are cost competitive in global terms. Such systems will underpin competitive industry and encourage investment in Australian industry.
Although nuclear energy is well established, it remains an industry with tremendous scope for innovation and additional research and development. While large Generation III reactors are the main reactor designs being constructed today, enormous potential exists in the area of small modular reactors (SMRs) and fast reactors (Generation IV).

SMRs expand the application range for nuclear power technology to off-grid and remote regions. Fast reactors will be fuelled by reprocessed used fuel from the light water reactors of the last halfcentury. They will also be able to consume as fuel the depleted uranium by-product from the enrichment process. These Generation IV reactors will dramatically increase the energy generation from uranium.

Global population has passed 7 billion and is projected to continue rising through coming decades to over 9 billion. Continuing global peace and security are contingent upon ongoing economic development. Access to reliable energy supply, which is low in emissions, is critical to sustainably facilitate this development.

Nuclear power is by far the most energy dense form of power humans have developed. Its energy density gives it a small environmental footprint.

The combination of nuclear power’s enormous energy density, and continuing global population growth, guarantees nuclear power will be critical in the 21st century. Australia must consider nuclear power as a strategic technology of national interest.

The MCA submits that this Royal Commission:
a) seriously consider the potential for nuclear power in South Australia, and
b) recommend legislative and regulatory reform to remove the obstacles prohibiting nuclear power and nuclear fuel cycle industries in Australia; allowing the country to potentially benefit from expected technology innovation and the opportunities in the decades ahead.

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