South Australia considers nuclear industry potential
Is South Australia's plan to set up a royal commission into the potential for nuclear power a local or national story, writes Ian Hore-Lacy.
The question of nuclear power for Australia has been raised several times over the last 60 years, but usually on the conservative side of politics. Apart from anything else, there has not been a strong need – the country has abundant coal located close to main population centres, and in using this for more than 80% of the electricity, has enjoyed some of the world's lowest power prices. But climate change concerns have changed the outlook nationally, and South Australia has always been less well-off than the eastern states in electricity options. Half its 5.3 GWe capacity is gas-fired, and its average wholesale power prices are one third greater than in the eastern states. Grid connections eastward amount to only 680 MWe.
Now a left-of-centre Labor government in South Australia is setting up a royal commission into the potential for nuclear power in that state, which already produces two thirds of Australia's uranium – all for export.