Today I received an email from the “Nuclear for Climate” organisation in Australia. The email is headed “We can give Australia a massive Economic and Environmental Boost with Nuclear Energy – A Plan for a Century.”, and its content is reproduced below. The link to the paper that they refer to is:
Now I am a supporter of nuclear energy, as I think that it should and will become an increasingly important component of the global energy market, and I am very much in favour of it being considered by Australia. But I don’t agree with all the arguments presented for it by others.
I’m presenting my reply to “Nuclear for Climate” as an open letter, (a) so that their campaign can reach a wider audience, and (b) so that they can receive feedback on their arguments. As I said, I support the idea of nuclear power, and I am sure that a lot of WUWTers do too, so exposure here can hopefully be very helpful to them. But think of it as “tough love” – there are some things that must be said by their supporters that they might not wish to hear.
This is my open letter to them:
Hi Barry, Robert and Rob –
In your paper, while some of the arguments for nuclear energy are valid, there are some that are not. Early in the paper, the arguments presented in “THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR INVESTMENT DILEMMA” are incorrect. The primary factor pushing up the cost of electricity is not the “competitive nature” of the electricity sector, and it is not a “Tragedy of the Commons” issue. The primary factor is that the federal government’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) reduces competition in the electricity sector. It does this by forcing the use of renewable energy when alternatives are available. This pushes up the cost per unit of production for those energy providers who are thus excluded from a large part of the market. It also allows the providers of renewable energy to charge exorbitant prices for their electricity, simply because the other energy providers are prevented from competing with them. The effect is similar to that of a monopoly: the renewable energy suppliers are handed on a plate the ability to rort the system (you call it “gaming”). Your reference to the market being “settled every half hour” is irrelevant, because the problem is not the manner of competition, the problem is the enforced prevention of competition.
If the MRET could be removed – the sooner the better – then electricity prices would fall, and in my opinion they would fall a lot. The reason is that it would return the electricity market to being a competitive market again. In that market, there would be an excess of supply over demand for much of the time, ie. while the wind was blowing or while the sun was shining. In a competitive market with oversupply, prices are driven down. Electricity is no exception.
Australia’s base-load electricity supply situation is woeful, due to the disgraceful campaign against coal. You talk about banks not providing debt funding as if that is caused by the way the market uses half-hour settlement. The real reason of course is the vitriolic campaign that the greens have been waging against fossil fuels. That campaign, which is based on the laughable idea that Australia’s use of fossil fuels has an impact on Earth’s climate, opens the way for others to ride on the bandwagon in order to promote their own interests. Those riding the bandwagon include coal’s competitors, such as natural gas and renewable energy suppliers, and also people like yourselves who are taking advantage of it in order to promote nuclear energy.
Rob Parker, as I told you some years ago (at a CanWin function where you presented the case for nuclear power), I do agree that Australia should consider using nuclear energy, but I don’t agree with all your arguments. I wish you success in changing Australia’s attitude towards nuclear power, but I think you might do a lot better if you used only the valid arguments.
I will offer this email for publication on the web, as I think the subject of nuclear power needs much more open discussion. – and it will give you a significant forum in which you can reply to this and any other comments.