Climate Change & Energy Policy

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
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Presentation: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has projected that Australia's population will double to 46 million by 2075, which could be as early as 2058 under the high growth scenario. Melbourne and Sydney are expected to each have 7.9 million people by 2053. While efficiencies in energy utilisation may contribute to reducing demand by approximately 0.5%pa, the electrical generation capacity of the Eastern Australian market will need to expand considerably to meet the demands population growth, elimination of fossil fuels from the transport sector (eg through electric and hydrogen fuelled vehicles) and water desalination requirements. Renewable energy and passively safe Generation IV (fast breeder) nuclear power generators such as the “Power Reactor Innovative Small Module” (GE/Hitachi Prism Reactor) have the capacity to complement each other. For example, Generation IV nuclear has the ability to vary power to complement the low capacity factor of renewable energy and to operate at night to produce desalinated water and hydrogen by electrolysis. The complementarity between renewable energy and Generation IV (fast breeder) nuclear power is important for three reasons. The first reason is that these two energy sources have significant potential in providing a differentiated mix of energy production to assure East Australia's energy and water security and achieve a sufficient rate of decarbonisation to meet Australia's commitments under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement (April 2016). The second reason is improved economic efficiency. For example, the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (February 2016) estimated that wholesale South Australian electricity prices would be 24% lower if a single, large, gigawatt-scale nuclear power plant complemented South Australia's predominantly renewable energy by 2030. The third reason is consideration of both the optimal use of land and the remoteness power production. For example, wind farms are necessarily geographically dispersed due to the need for propitious sites and a land area of approximately 300 times that of nuclear energy. Similarly for concentrated solar, which requires approximately 30 times the land area of nuclear energy.
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