The Cairns Post

Turn on nuclear debate

A former state governor tells PAUL STARICK net zero is unlikely without the controvers­ial fuel


FORMER state governor Kevin Scarce is urging a national royal commission into nuclear energy, declaring a net zero emission target cannot be reached by 2050 without Australia embracing the controvers­ial fuel.

The former South Australian governor was the state’s royal commission­er into the nuclear fuel cycle and in 2016 recommende­d it be considered as a “future lowcarbon energy source to contribute to national emissions reduction targets”.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Mr Scarce challenged Australia to be unafraid of examining nuclear power technology to determine if it meets the nation’s future energy needs.

He argued a royal commission would remove politics from the necessary community debate, saying the 2050 emissions target should be the catalyst for examining whether to end legal barriers to nuclear generation.

“We have to make our mind up how we get to zero emissions by 2050. To me, nuclear should be one of those technologi­es that we consider for that,” Mr Scarce said.

“There’s no reason why a low-carbon emission technology, such as nuclear, shouldn’t be part of the mix.

“Whether it works for

Australia, I can’t say because we have not done that work, but I can say it should be one of the technologi­es we use as we plan to develop the energy we need for 2050 and beyond.”

Based on his SA nuclear royal commission, Mr Scarce said it was “an enormous stretch” to believe net zero could be achieved by 2050 without nuclear energy because there was “simply no way to accurately and costeffect­ively store the energy that you produce during the day that you might need during the evenings”.

“I can’t see how we can make it without nuclear energy,” he said.

“There are a lot of nations in the world that don’t have the abundance of renewable resources we do, but even for us it’s a big stretch.

“How do you plan the (electricit­y) network to be able to deliver that costeffect­ively with low-carbon emissions and high reliabilit­y?”

He argued nuclear energy was safe and, as the state royal commission found,

Australia had the perfect climatic and geological conditions for disposing of waste.

Small modular reactors, not yet licensed to operate commercial­ly in the West, cost less than large-scale units and might in future overcome the economic barrier.

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