South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission seems to be focused on electricity generation from low carbon sources, but is paying lip service only to renewable energy
The Commission is currently holding public hearings http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/public-sessions/ in Adelaide. They run from 9th September through to 8th October. These hearings are devoted to 6 topics :
- Climate Change and Energy Policy
- National Electricity Market
- Geology and Hydrogeology of South Australia,
- Low Carbon Energy Generation Options,
- Estimating Costs and benefits of Nuclear Activities
- Environmental Impact: Lessons Learnt from Past SA Practices
At the same time, the Commission is going through the submissions that it received from the public, and publishing these on its website, http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/submissions/?search=Submissions under 4 topic headings:
- EXPLORATION EXTRACTION AND MILLING
- FURTHER PROCESSING AND MANUFACTURE
- ELECTRICITY GENERATION
- MANAGEMENT STORAGE AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES.
I have been laboriously reading through these submissions. The Commission’s numbering method is haphazard, as they will sometimes count one person’s numerous submission. Also they don’t publish all the submissions. The Commission’s present total of submissions published is 454.
I counted the submissions differently, instead, just counting how many individuals and organisations put in submissions. My total is only 173, as many individuals put in several submissions.
However, there is one point on which both the Commission and I agree. The topic of greatest interest is No. 3 ELECTRICITY GENERATION. http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/submissions/?search=Submissions&query=&cat=Issues+Paper+3 Especially in the case of submissions in favour of nuclear electricity generation, that is the most popular topic. Many of the 94 pro nuclear submitters included that topic, while 29 of them were concerned solely with that topic. When we consider that nuclear companies did not have to have their submissions published (commercial in-confidence), we can assume that there were quite a few more of these.
At the same time, the Commission’s favourite topic for the public hearings seems to be LOW CARBON ENERGY GENERATION OPTIONS. http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/public-sessions/
So I conclude that electricity generation from low carbon sources is the major theme in this Royal Commission.
I’ve also studies the speeches given by Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce, both in regional meetings, and in reporting back from overseas trips. When it comes to “low carbon’ energy options, he always addresses the question of renewable energy in the same way. His stock phrase seems to be “The Commission will be looking at renewable energy”, and then returns to the nuclear subject.
But where do they look?
On their overseas trips the Commission spent much time at nuclear electricity generation locations – notably in France, at AREVA, Le Hague, and in Canada. I have yet to hear of any visit to a solar or wind generating plant.
When it comes to the public hearings, the Commission is devoting 3 days to LOW CARBON ENERGY GENERATION OPTIONS, but generally only 1 or 2 to the other topics. These LOW CARBON hearings will be held in Adelaide on 29th September and 1st and 2nd October. The speakers will be: http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/app/uploads/2015/09/150929-Topic-4-Day-1-Flyer-v2.pdf
- Mr Donald Hoffman, President and CEO of EXCEL Services Corporation, which provides specialist advice and support services to nuclear facilities in the US and internationally. Mr Hoffman served as President of the American Nuclear Society from 2013-2014. He currently provides presentations on the benefits of nuclear science and technology to the US Congress and is chairing a committee to support all the US Governors on implementing the US Clean Energy Act and addressing the Climate Control Acts.
- Mr Andrew Stock, director of energy companies Horizon Oil Limited and Alinta Holdings, and past director of Silex Systems, Geodynamics, Transform Solar and Australia Pacific LNG
- Mr Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, President of the IEER and holds a Ph.D. in Engineering, specialising in nuclear fusion
- Dr Keung Koo Kim and Dr Kyun S. Zee, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute . The Institute (KAERI) has a history of over 50 years of research and development in nuclear energy. . Dr Kim is the Director of Advanced Reactor Development.
- Mr Thomas Marcille, of Holtec (US) Holtec International is an energy technology company with a focus on carbon-free power generation, specifically commercial nuclear and solar energy. Mr Marcille is Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer at Holtec International and is involved in the development of Holtec’s small modular reactor, the SMR-160. He has provided nearly three decades of service in senior engineering positions in the nuclear industry in the US.
Four of these speakers are nuclear experts. The fifth, Andrew Stock has experience in large oil and gas projects, and renewables. He and Arjun Makhijani should provide some balance. Still, it seems to me to be well weighted in favour of new nuclear projects, and the low carbon option of renewable energy barely gets a look-in.
A while back, nuclear power was being touted as “renewable”. That was patently untrue, and the phrase went out of fashion as far as nuclear power was concerned. It seems that it has been replaced now by “low carbon”. The nuclear lobby still quite often condemns renewable energy as inadequate, as “not a base load source”, as too expensive, etc. However, nuclear promotion today is more sophisticated, and will include renewable energy, along with nuclear, as “part of the energy mix”. So “low carbon” is the preferred term for nuclear promotion, and it looks to me as if this is the way in which the Royal Commission is using that term, and paying only lip service to renewable energy. .