Senate debates

Tuesday, 3 August 2021


Nuclear Energy

1:54 pm

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is time that we shake ourselves out of our deep, deep nuclear coma and consider adopting this technology here in Australia, in particular modern small modular reactors. They are not a new concept. They have been used in submarines since the 1950s, but modern designs are incredibly safe, efficient and affordable.

Why should we use them? If we're not kidding ourselves and we actually do want to get to net zero at some stage in the future, and we want to do that without destroying our lives and our economy, then we must consider this as part of our energy mix. Countries with low emissions have either readily available large-scale hydro or nuclear as part of their mix. This is reliable and dispatchable and able to provide firming for our ballooning number of intermittent generators like solar and wind. Small modular reactors are becoming very affordable. Currently they're down to around $60 to $70 per megawatt hour. They produce very little waste, unlike older conventional reactors and intermittent generators, and they occupy far less land. If we look at the NuScale small modular reactor, it's first to receive a US Nuclear Regulatory Committee final safety evaluation report. It produces almost 1,000 megawatts continuously on a site the size of 18 hectares. Now, if we compare that to Sun Cable, it produces 14,000 megawatts at full capacity under ideal conditions, occupying 12,000 hectares, or 47 times the size. (Time expired)