OpEd by ALEX VAUGHAN
Senator Samantha McMahon’s ongoing promotion of nuclear energy and attack on renewable energy are astoundingly outdated, dangerous and need to be confronted.
She has declared that “renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy mix … they are a great hoax perpetrated by the industry on the gullible”.
She is calling the technology “fundamentally flawed”. These remarks leave the Senator isolated from the rest of Australia and the world as a renewable energy revolution sweeps the planet, driven by cost effectiveness and climate repair.
It is creating whole new economies, jobs and industries for those riding the wave. Is the Senator (inset) seriously advocating that we ignore this opportunity and pursue a non-existent micro-nuclear industry?
It is renewables which will ignite sustainable jobs and industries in the Territory, bringing sustainable and ethical revenue to our government coffers.
Renewables will create green jobs in solar, hydrogen and green aluminium, steel and cement.
But our leaders need to act now to set up green energy transport corridors, industrial hubs and the appropriate regulatory environment to ensure maximum benefit is realised across the Territory. This is the NT economic vision that is lacking from Senator McMahon.
Right now, SunCable is planning to build the world’s largest solar farm near Elliot, 250kms north of Tennant Creek, providing electricity via a subterranean cable to Singapore.
The Senator calls this a “hoax” while her Government, the Federal Government, has granted this development “Major Project” status.
Australia’s north has traditionally exported gas and coal to the world. Now we are on the verge of exporting big solar energy, scalable well beyond SunCable’s $20 billion proposal.
Bauxite has been mined and shipped out of Arnhem Land for decades. Green energy can convert this to aluminium locally, led by Aboriginal enterprises.
Cement is made in Mataranka at a small scale. This can be upsized to produce green cement for export.
Customers pay a premium for these products. Massive data storage centres now exist in the deserts of the USA and use hundreds of megawatts of power. Alice Springs can emulate this using renewable energy.
The Senator’s views are out of touch with Territory politics. The CLP has a formal policy position that the “transition to renewables represents the future of energy production … growth in the sector presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Territory … in less than a decade the Territory can be a clean energy powerhouse, if we move quickly”.
Senator McMahon’s position makes no economic sense. The cost of nuclear energy is six times greater than standalone solar and three times greater than solar with storage but she is advocating for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), a technology which currently has zero reactors operating globally.
Alex Vaughan is the Policy Officer of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
Images of micro-nuclear plants: World Nuclear Association, American Institute of Chemical Engineers.