Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:35): I rise to support the leader's original motion:

That this house—

(a) acknowledges that South Australia is where 25 per cent of the world's uranium is found, and that our state holds 80 per cent of Australia's known uranium reserves;

(b) acknowledges the groundbreaking AUKUS agreement which will see the construction of nuclear-powered submarines at the Osborne shipyards, noting that this will see the development of nuclear skills which could in turn leverage a civil nuclear industry;

(c) acknowledges that base load zero emissions nuclear power is critical to decarbonise globally and that many countries around the world are already using base load zero emissions nuclear power;

(d) acknowledges that inherent grid stability which is provided by base load zero emissions nuclear power;

(e) notes that Australia is the only G20 country with a blanket ban on base load zero emissions nuclear power and that this poses a risk to decarbonisation targets at state and federal level;

(f) notes that active participation in various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle could present multiple economic opportunities for South Australia;

(g) supports base load zero emissions nuclear power being considered as part of a source-agnostic pathway to clear, zero emissions energy production; and

(h) supports a non-ideological, open-minded investigation into the potential for a civil nuclear industry, including energy generation, in South Australia.

I note that Peter Dutton, our federal Liberal leader, has outlined a path for nuclear and potential sites for nuclear power plants across the state.

I want to get back to the very simple issue that we do mine a lot of uranium in South Australia and that many thousands of people have had the experience of being involved, whether at Roxby Downs, Honeymoon, Beverley or Four Mile. My son works for Redpath Mining and he completed about a year last year working at Roxby Downs, working on the surface and down hole, and he is currently working at a lead, silver and zinc mine out of Mount Isa. If he is not on a plane, he will be on a plane soon, coming back to Adelaide after his swing.

What the mining industry and the uranium mining industry do is support many people, many families right across this state and this country. To decarbonise to zero emissions by 2050 we do need nuclear base load power.

We have the scare campaigns put up everywhere. We have the minister admitting today that the multibillion dollar hydrogen plan is looking at generating 10 per cent peaking power for the state. That is a terrifying thought when you think that the unrecognised technology to build an industrial-sized plant that the government is looking at building for $593 million—and as we see over time that component that comes in that $593 million gets less and less and less—is to be used as a peaking station. Apart from that, we will need 1,500 clean square kilometres of land—so we will probably need anywhere up to 3,000 square kilometres—to put all the solar panels on to generate the energy to be transferred to the hydrogen.

Not only that but there are the thousands of wind turbines and the many, many square kilometres they will take up to generate that power, and I am informed there can be up to an 80 per cent loss from that renewable power through to hydrogen. This for potentially 10 per cent of the state's power?

We should be moving to where we have nuclear power as a base load, and I would think you would have it running at about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the state's needs. That is how it works; like a coal-fired power station, it sits there running all the time. Obviously, in the background you have your wind and solar—and we have much wind and solar in this state, and that is well regarded—but it is not base load power.

We use a lot of gas as firming power, which can be switched on immediately and get on with that peaking, but that industry has been under threat, as well, from interest groups. The Tiwi Islanders have tried to stop the extra exploration north of Darwin, and there are the Aboriginal groups that tried to stop the Scarborough project off Western Australia. The simple fact is that we will need gas for at least three decades as a transition power moving into the future.

I heard the story about the plant in New South Wales that the government is putting money into. The issue is that the government is putting money into it because financiers have been scared off of financing these things. They are literally falling down; I have heard of bits of sheds falling down, bits of plant. In the meantime, we see solar and wind generation being subsidised.

The whole issue here, as far as base load power in this state goes—whatever power we generate, whether it is wind or solar and obviously gas power when we need it—is that we need more interconnection. We have certainly built our side of the interconnector heading towards New South Wales; we have the Heywood interconnector that goes down through my electorate towards the Victorian border, and we also have Murraylink, an underground connector up in the Riverland. They are vital connectors.

I found out only the other day that there is one major powerline in my area that is not even energised, which intrigued me. This is not just Stobie poles, this is the big poles. I am not sure whether it is a 132 kilovolt line—I would have to check on that—but I found it interesting to learn that that one is not even activated. We do need to get on, we do need to get involved, because the sooner we start the sooner we can have a result with nuclear power. Yes, it does take some time.

I went to Finland, France and England when we had the nuclear royal commission here on storing nuclear waste, and talked to the experts in Canada, while we were in London. We went to Manchester, near the Lakes District, where there are 120 tonnes of plutonium sitting on the surface. There are hundreds and hundreds of tonnes, probably thousands of tonnes, of spent nuclear rods and waste material sitting on the surface because people are still getting to the final development phases of putting that waste underground.

The beauty of it is that people like the Finns have legislation in place where they have to store their spent rods. I saw some great work they were doing in putting the spent rods 500 metres down encased in a steel tube which was then encased in a copper tube. They were looking at autonomous vehicles to put that material down 500 metres. They used bentonite clay and cement to hold it in, and then there was a whole heap of rock towards the surface and more cement and clay. The engineers, after about the third blocking process, start to roll their eyes.

Yes, there is some work to do there. Other countries put a production facility in place where they can reduce those spent rods down to about 20 per cent of their size. There is plenty of work going on. On visiting France, it was interesting to see the nuclear power station sitting there with vineyards right up to the outside fence, and canola crops, which shows that it can be done.

If we are serious about decarbonisation in this state, and especially as we are obviously getting further involved in the nuclear industry with the nuclear submarines and we will have to take the responsibility of storing spent fuel—we missed that opportunity that was quoted as somewhere around $680 billion during the fuel cycle royal commission—we have a great opportunity in this state to not only be leaders here in Australia but to be world leaders working on that total nuclear fuel cycle.

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.