Net zero plans: Will nuclear-power help Australia?

According to the final report of a study that modelled how Australia might accomplish its 2050 climate target, the use of nuclear power should not be included in the plans that the country of Australia has in place to reach its goal of reaching net zero emissions. This is because nuclear power is both too expensive and too sluggish.

According to the report Net Zero Australia, a partnership between major academic institutions and the management consultant Nous Group, the federal government has a significant role to play in advancing all of the choices that have the potential to make a “material contribution” to the goal of achieving net zero.

The release of the research comes just a few days after the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, escalated calls for nuclear power in Australia and stoked a debate about the possibility of lifting statutory restrictions on nuclear power in Australia.

The paper outlines significant investments in transmission, pumped hydro, solar, and onshore wind energy, as well as batteries. The analysis came to the conclusion that the first power from offshore wind projects is required to occur in the year 2030. This finding placed offshore wind as the option with the most uncertain pipeline among the renewable options.

However, the research comes to the conclusion that nuclear power should not be considered when making plans to achieve net zero and argues that “reducing renewable targets in the belief that nuclear will be deployed later at scale would create a material risk of not achieving net zero, or doing so at an excessive cost.”

The principal of Nous Group, Richard Bolt, stated that nuclear power should not be included in our plans since it is both too expensive and too sluggish. A reassessment of the situation wouldn’t be necessary unless there was a significant drop in prices and ongoing restrictions on renewable resources.

The research warns that Australia’s path to net zero carbon emissions in 2050 will require faster, broader, and more imaginative efforts to decarbonize the economy and that the pipeline of large-scale solar and onshore wind projects risks falling short of the required build rate. In addition, the paper states that the report warns that Australia’s path to net zero carbon emissions in 2050 will require efforts to decarbonize the economy.

The report modelled six different scenarios, each of which featured a network of gas-fired peaking plants to provide backup to renewables and storage but with “minimal” actual use of gas. This was done so that the analysis could be as accurate as possible.

In addition, the research concludes that carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a “crucial component of a net zero strategy,” despite the fact that the technology has not yet yielded considerable reductions in emissions.

According to the findings of the paper, blue hydrogen, which is hydrogen produced using fossil fuels but with carbon dioxide captured as well as stored, would be the predominant use for carbon capture and storage (CCUS) up until the year 2060 in a scenario in which the deployment of renewable energy is restrained. In hypothetical situations in which the use of renewable energy sources is not restricted in any way, the primary function of these sources would be to compensate for emissions produced by the land use and aviation industries.

The Andlinger Center for Energy & Environment at Princeton University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, and Nous Group were all involved in the production of the paper.

It was made possible by financial contributions and gifts from organizations such as Worley, a consulting business that specializes in the energy and resources sectors, the chemical corporation Dow, the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre, the Future Energy Exports Cooperative Research Centre, the APA Group, and the Minderoo Foundation.

According to Robin Batterham, who is both an emeritus professor at the University of Melbourne and the leader of the steering group for Net Zero Australia, there are “too many uncertainties to map a single path to net zero.”

“We need more options, stronger investment drivers, and a larger pipeline of projects,” he added. “We need more options.”

The report incorporates feedback from members of an advisory committee, one of which is the Australian Conservation Foundation. According to Kelly O’Shanassy, the company’s chief executive, the findings that the writers of the paper came to about renewables were key to their conclusions.

She made the statement that “everything depends on how quickly you can deploy renewables.” “It also demonstrates that when renewable energy production is increased, gas in Australia essentially becomes a fuel that is used only during peak demand.” It is not possible to have Australia run on natural gas.

However, she stated that several of the assumptions that were made about the function of CCUS were “heroic”, considering that the technology had not been successful on a broad scale.

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