‘We need to have a conversation’ about nuclear power, says MP Adrian Pederick
The Member for Hammond believes that the way forward in Australia’s energy crisis is a combination of power sources that includes nuclear.
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South Australia should consider turning to nuclear energy to reduce household power bills and carbon emissions alike, the Murraylands’ state MP says.
Adrian Pederick weighed into the debate this week in the wake of a state Liberal Party convention where the technology was described as “affordable and reliable”, and the completion of a solar farm at Tailem Bend which drew heavy criticism from some Murray Bridge News readers.
Mr Pederick said that the debate about the state’s energy issues wasn’t a case of “tech versus tech”.
But he suggested that introducing nuclear energy into the mix was the way to go.
“If we’re going to reach net zero by 2050, I believe like many people, the only way to do it is to have nuclear as part of that baseload package,” he said.
“I believe we’ll still have (gas) as a transition fuel for probably 30 years, and I don’t think it’s so much whether it’s nuclear versus solar; the fact is, solar’s obviously intermittent, like wind.
“I’ve got solar on my property – it’s great – but we need to have a genuine conversation about nuclear.”
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He didn’t believe a shift towards nuclear energy would send a negative message to companies who had spent millions of dollars building solar farms in the Murraylands.
“There has to be a place for both forms (of power), because we’re a long way off,” he said.
“We’re a minimum of 10 to 15 years off even if we hit the switch now on nuclear generation, and that’s probably in the form of small modular reactors, but they’re still getting developed.”
Mr Pederick was open to where a nuclear reactor for the benefit of Murraylands residents would go.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” he said.
“It’d be a long consultation process … and you’d have to leave it up to the experts.”
State Liberal Party convention focuses on power
At the South Australian Liberal Party’s 2023 convention, on November 18, a key focus was on policies that could help reduce South Australians’ escalating household power prices.
State Liberal leader David Speirs and federal opposition spokesperson for climate change and energy Ted O’Brien spoke about the pressing need to have conversations about nuclear’s role in SA’s future electricity generation.
“The (state) government’s only energy plan is an experimental hydrogen power plant,” Mr Speirs said.
But with the highest power prices in Australia, it was time to look at energy alternatives.
“With the construction of nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia on the horizon, we believe now is the time to have a sensible conversation around what role nuclear could play in electricity generation in our state to improve affordability and reliability of our power,” he said.
Mr O’Brien echoed these sentiments.
“All technologies should be on the table, including renewables and next-generation, zero-emissions nuclear energy,” he said.
“There is a reason 32 countries in the world today use nuclear energy and another 50 countries are introducing it for the first time or looking to do so: nuclear gets prices down.”
Not everyone agrees on that point, though.
University of Melbourne researcher Reuben Finighan recently examined whether establishing nuclear power plants in Australia would be worth the extreme cost.
He suggested there were better alternatives.
“With our unmatched solar and wind resources, we have the chance to deliver among the cheapest electricity in the developed world,” he said.
More information: Is nuclear the answer to Australia’s climate crisis?
Clarification: Mr Pederick was originally quoted as saying coal would be a transition fuel, but he later said that he had meant to say “gas”.