Recently, the perennial debate about Australia building nuclear power stations has once again emerged. Once again, much of the comment demonstrates ignorance and myth!

* There are numerous reasons for why Australia should not engage in nuclear power. However, for me whether we 'should' build nuclear power stations or not is irrelevant. There is a more important argument than 'should' we! it is that Australia has NO NEED to develop nuclear power because we have more than sufficient renewable energy, particularly from sunlight!

* Some countries, not so blessed as Australia [e.g., Northern Europe] do indeed require nuclear power to reduce fossil-fuel emissions because they lack sufficient renewable energy sources. But Australia is not in that situation!

Every year, Australia receives 58 million Petajoules of potential energy from the sun! That is much more than most other countries. It is 10,000 times the energy that Australia consumes.

* If Australia converted that potential energy and stored it we could become one of the most important world exporters of solar energy, not only drastically reducing our own fossil-fuel emissions but helping other countries to do the same.

* It is well established that energy generated by roof solar panels, stored in household/apartment/building batteries and used on-site [with no need for transmission lines] is the cheapest, most reliable and efficient form of energy [see Saul Griffith (2022), 'The Big Switch', Black Inc.]

* In addition, we also have massive amounts of other potential renewable energy in wind, waves and hydro that is yet to be realised.

* But apart from those convincing reasons for why we don't NEED nuclear power, there are also compelling arguments for why we shouldn't consider nuclear power and why it is of little use to reduce fossil fuel emissions quickly.

Length of time to be operational - current estimates from plan to the building and on-line operation of a nuclear power station is somewhere between 5-10 years- not likely to contribute much to reducing our emissions by 2040! By contrast, from design to operational roof solar and battery energy system, depending on size and location, 6-8 weeks. This is how China [often maligned in renewable energy debates but now the largest producer of solar energy] was able in 2022 to increase its solar energy infrastructure by double what was achieved in the whole of Europe in the same time.

Safety - I could begin by saying that one of the reasons that we shouldn't consider nuclear power is because we aren't too careful in looking after our radioactive material! - especially after the recent episode of the radioactive capsule that Rio Tinto lost when it 'fell off the back of a truck' in the Pilbara!- and there certainly have been serious accidents in other countries when radioactive material was being transported by trains and trucks through populated centres.

* And while there is little talk of it today, what about the serious consequences, that are still experienced by populations affected by the Menzies decision to  allow Britain to use the Montebello Islands off the coast of South Australia for testing atomic bombs, the same size as those used on Hiroshima. Devastating damage, much greater than expected, with lasting consequences for people, fish, marine animals and the natural environment and bio systems were the results, including total instant vaporisation of one of the islands. [see Robert Drewe, 'Go west, young quantum', The Saturday Paper, February 11-17, 2023, p6]. We could also recall the impacts of the South Australian Marlinga atomic tests and their legacies.

*Another issue with safety is what about the devastation, disruption, damage and impacts on populations of a nuclear accident. Results of Chernobyl and the consequences of radiation fallout, even in countries and places far from the accident site, on atmospheres and natural environments are still evident. Both the long term consequences of that accident and the more recent events in Fukushima give pause to thoughts of establishing nuclear power in Australia - especially when Australia does not need to do that! 

* Location - one of the hotly debated questions is where such a power station could be situated. Certainly, even by the advocates of nuclear power, 'not in my backyard'! - witness the recent protests regarding the proposed siting of a nuclear waste dump - and certainly not along coastlines that are exposed to potential tsunamis and land prone to ?earthquakes!

* What to do with the radioactive waste? - a very significant question is what happens to the radioactive material, which has a half-life of thousands of years, when it is no longer useful to producing power. So far, it seems, no satisfactory solution to that question has been discovered. Certainly ideas of burying it in containers in the ground or dropping containers into deep oceans always carries the risks of geological events rupturing containers and the waste leaking and contaminating oceans, earth and groundwater.

BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS SIMPLE - Australia, unlike many other countries, is blessed with massive amounts of renewable energy - sunlight, wind, waves and hydro - we don't need nuclear in our future energy mix - and it can't have the impact to reduce our fossil-fuel emissions quickly enough anyway.

* SO, let us individually and collectively urge all our governments and our political representatives to act quickly to rapidly build the infrastructure that we require to harness our enormous potential renewable energy sources. As Joelle Gergis (2022) so cogently and passionately demonstrates in 'Humanity's Moment' - the Earth, its future, our future and the futures of the generations who come after us, are all now in OUR hands.   

[David Smith for 'Electrifying Bradfield']