West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says the federal government needs to start investing in nuclear power but is adamant there’s no room in his state for a nuclear power station.
A report released by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering says nuclear power could be a viable option once a suitable price is put on carbon.
The report says Australia would not be ready for nuclear power – which it argues has a lower fuel price than conventional power plants and no carbon dioxide emissions – until after 2020.
It has prompted several Labor MPs to push for a discussion on overturning the party’s ban on nuclear power at ALP’s national conference Mr Barnett said Australia should be looking to invest in nuclear power as most major developed countries were now using it to provide between 20 to 40 per cent of their energy supply.
“It’s the ultimate clean source of energy. I would suggest the federal government might need to form a nuclear power commission and start to seriously look at the technology, science and location,” he told reporters in Perth.
But the WA Premier said there would be no place for a nuclear power station to be built in the state and its energy grid could not accommodate one.
“Our grid is only about 4000 megawatts, so you can’t plonk a 1000-megawatt nuclear power station into that and expect the system to work.
So just the physics prevent that,” Mr Barnett said. However the grid from Brisbane to Adelaide would be able to handle increased energy from nuclear power, he said.
Mr Barnett has warned with the election of a fellow Liberal premier in Ted Baillieu, the federal government’s intention to introduce a carbon tax was now in doubt.
He said as the WA government owned and ran its electricity industry, any move to introduce a carbon tax would have be negotiated with the state. “Any major change like that will inevitably require the cooperation of the states,” the premier said.
“It’s all well to pass a piece of legislation through the parliament in Canberra, but to actually implement it is something totally different.”
Mr Barnett said a carbon tax would do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases in Australia or improve the supply of electricity to households.