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Energy Future Needs a Portfolio Approach

By Martin Thomas

Nuclear options must be part of the low-carbon discussion.

Mr Martin Thomas AM FTSE HonFIEAust chairs the ATSE Energy Forum and is chair of Energy Technologies Limited and Dulhunty Poles Limited. He was a former Principal of Sinclair Knight Merz and a member of the 2006 Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review.

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Pressures are growing internationally to develop low-carbon energy resources, technologies and policies. Australia simply cannot rely on clean coal, wind, solar and geothermal technologies alone to meet its policy objectives of securing affordable energy to drive its industries, businesses and homes.

A rational portfolio approach that takes account of all realistic available national and regional energy resources is essential. To do otherwise would be unwise.

Australia’s energy portfolio for 2030 and beyond will include an economically appropriate and socially acceptable mix of advanced fossil fuel technologies – coal, oil, gas and carbon capture and storage – as well as renewables such as geothermal, biomass, solar, wind and ocean energy, depending on the location in Australia. This is to be encouraged.

But Australia must keep all its energy options open, not just those with apparent popular support. This means putting nuclear energy on the discussion agenda – now.

The government’s draft energy white paper makes limited mention of nuclear power for low-emissions base-load generation – apart from its possible application should other technologies fail to meet energy market demands ahead, in which case the deferred lead time becomes too long to contribute meaningfully to Australia’s needs. This lead time could be 15–20 years due to Australia’s...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.