Off-Grid Power event kickstarts nuclear debate

The Warren Centre’s Executive Director Dr Nick Cerneaz, and colleagues from our Off-Grid Power Supply Options (OGP) project delivered a series of presentations to the Sydney Mining Club on 6 March 2013 describing the project.

In order of delivery, the presentations can be accessed from these links:

The lunch event focused on the potential for Australia’s mining industry to meet its power requirements through small modular nuclear power reactors (SMR). SMR units can be factory-built, assembled and fuelled under controlled factory conditions and transported to site in a completed state.  These sealed and integral units can be quite physically small, some small enough to be transported using today’s ordinary sea, rail and road transport infrastructure.

Importantly, at the end of life, such units can also be transported back to the factory for processing, again under controlled factory conditions.  As a ’30-year battery’ with significantly lower carbon footprints and one of the cheapest costs of electricity generation available, SMRs open up options for dependable baseload electricity generation that should be considered alongside the more traditional fossil fuel based electricity generation technologies typically used today.

Dr Cerneaz told delegates that although policy change may be difficult in the current Australian environment, under which uranium exports are allowed but processing is banned, it is time to take the nuclear debate forward. The industry and experts will need to engage in an open and evidence-based discussion with a sceptical public, in order to highlight the benefits of the technology and dispel concerns about risk.

The lunch received wide press coverage including reports in the Australian Financial Review and the Australian Journal of Mining, adding to the wider public debate on the role that nuclear power will play in Australia’s future.

The Warren Centre’s ongoing Off-Grid Power Options Project will be a key element in shaping this debate, by assessing the costs and benefits of small modular nuclear power reactors compared with traditional and other emerging options for off-grid power. The results of the study will be made public, allowing an informed debate of all the available energy options to be openly discussed by industry, the wider community and government.

For further information please contact Dr Nick Cerneaz, Executive Director, The Warren Centre on +61 2 9651 3752 or email warrenc@sydney.edu.au.