Yesterday, ANSTO released a report into nuclear power generation. A summary has been available for some time, but different media outlets have had different takes on it.
For example the Australian “Subsidies or Kyoto essential for nuclear power“. The ABC reported it differently “Nuclear power economically viable: ANSTO”. The Sydney Morning Herald had a more parochial take “East coast would host nuclear plants: ANSTO”, but goes on to say:
An ANSTO report, released yesterday, found nuclear power would be competitive with gas- or coal-fired electricity – but only if taxpayers helped to pay for it or shouldered the risk of producing it.
Ah, yes. Well most things are economically viable if subsidised enough.
While I love my ABC and all that, is it too Tim Blair of me to point out the irony that it is the ABC that doesn’t consider needing subsidies to be viable, uneconomic? Another thing why, when the report is freely available on the web, do none of the mainstream media put a link to it in their web articles so we can read it for ourselves?
The report isn’t hard to find of course, being on the front page of the ANSTO website, but that is no excuse as it also means its easier to link to it. Given the variety of interpretations that they seem to be able to place upon it, reading the original might be handy.
As to the report itself, it seems to show us little that we didn’t already know. As it stands if the full range of costs are taken into account, nuclear power is more expensive than coal. It only becomes effective if we have a carbon tax or some kind of subsidy. Which is why as I was saying a few days ago we are having the wrong debate. However, it is good to have recent estimates done for Australia, and from that regard I think the report is worthwhile.
In the end the only reason for us to consider nuclear is to reduce CO2, and if we wish to tackle that problem we need to do so directly, rather than the government backing one horse in what will most likely be a many faceted solution. Ultimately if the government does truly believe that CO2 emissions are a problem, charging for them will be the most effective way of us solving that problem.