AFR, by Phillip Coorey Laura Tingle Simon Evans, 30 Oct 15
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is backing the creation of a nuclear fuel industry in Australia that experts say could be worth up to $35 billion for South Australia.
Mr Turnbull commended South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill for setting up an inquiry to consider if the state should have a nuclear industry. He said he was sceptical about the need for nuclear power, but Australia should become involved in the nuclear fuel cycle to produce fuel rods, export them and then transport them back home once used, and store them in outback nuclear waste dumps……
Assistant Science Minister Karen Andrews told The Australian Financial Review that developing a nuclear waste disposal industry was an option, and pointed out that there is currently Australian nuclear waste in transit from treatment in France which is expected to be stored by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
Those fuel rods come from the scientific reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney, whereas the proposal to manufacture and store spent rods from overseas concerns the high-level radioactive rods used to power nuclear reactors that generate electricity. Even after being reprocessed, they remain radioactive for many years.
Mrs Andrews referred to a proposal by South Australian Liberal senator Sean Edwards as an example of the sort of development that could emerge in the nuclear cycle industry in Australia and overcome concerns…..
It argues for “an ambitious model of services predicated on providing custody of used fuel, rather than disposal, paired with the committed commercialisation of the infrastructure required to undertake complete recycling of the material while generating zero-carbon electricity”.
Senator Edwards wrote that “such an integrated project delivers net present value exceeding $28 billion to South Australia”, providing benefits of “free wholesale power to the state, the reduction or elimination of some state-based taxation, direct and indirect creation of many thousands of jobs, and sustained funding for leading renewable energy initiatives”.
Senator Edwards argued that “technological advances are rendering the model of geological disposal unnecessary, in light of the proven capabilities to recycle this material for plentiful further energy, and dispose of long-lived material in the process”.
He proposed a four-pronged approach: a multinational independent spent fuel storage installation; an industrial-pilot scale fuel recycling and fabrication facility based on processing; inherently safe fast-breeder nuclear reactors; and deep borehole disposal of short-lived waste products.
Ernst & Young is mid-way through financial modelling on the costs and benefits of a nuclear industry for royal commissioner Kevin Scarce. He is publish a final report by May 2016 on whether South Australia should expand from just being a uranium miner, and broaden its reach into nuclear enrichment, storage of waste and power generation.
Ernst & Young’s number-crunching work is confidential so far, although the firm’s Craig Mickle and Jyothi Gali appeared before the royal commission on October 6 to outline their process in determining the economic benefit for the state, and for Australia.
Other firms have put forward their views on the potential economic benefit. Raymond Spencer, the chairman of South Australia’s Economic Development Board, made a submission to the inquiry which included a comprehensive discussion paper by a firm called ThinkClimate Consulting. http://www.afr.com/news/politics/pm-turnbull-backs-nuclear-in-sa-economy-may-get-35b-injection-20151027-gkk9aa#ixzz3q5DH3JuY