A March 5, 2007 article titled Countdown to climate change had some favorable comparisons between nuclear power and other possible new energy sources.
Geosequestration is further away and arguably more unsafe than the nuclear option. Its problems include: there is no evidence to show it can be done on a commercial scale; nobody knows what it will cost; and it can’t be retrofitted, so all existing coal-fired power stations would be redundant.
Compared with clean coal, nuclear power could be a better bet. The cost and risks of storing carbon are likely to be far higher than storing nuclear waste. Nuclear power plant designs could be bought off the shelf, provided a suitable regulatory regime was in place.
At present, federal and state laws prohibit nuclear power generation in Australia. Even if John Howard could make nuclear power a winning issue in the coming federal election, it would still become a constitutional issue unless the Federal Government was prepared to site a nuclear station in the ACT or the Northern Territory.
The next generation of nuclear power stations may be safer and produce cheaper power than the existing nuclear plants but they couldn’t be operational within 15 years. The Treasurer, Peter Costello, told The Age last week that the Government would not subsidise nuclear power. Whether it “stacked up” would depend on the price of carbon emissions and developments in clean-coal technology, he said.