Australia’s net zero plan includes ‘small, modular nuclear reactors’

Australia will closely watch the development of small modular nuclear reactors as the government seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Oct 27, 2021, updated Oct 27, 2021

The Morrison government’s emissions plan released on Tuesday said “all technologies” were on the table.

“We will monitor emerging technologies in the early stages of development, like small modular nuclear reactors,” according to the planning document.

“There may be the potential for Australia’s domestic demand to be reliably met by very large, export-oriented electricity systems that produce 200 per cent or more of Australia’s needs, or for modern third and fourth generation nuclear technologies to be deployed in Australia.”

The report said small reactors, which could be available as early as the 2030s, had the benefit of being built off-site, shipped and connected to a grid.

There were also opportunities for Australian uranium.

“We have the world’s largest uranium reserves and we are currently the third biggest producer,” the plan said.

“By helping to meet this demand, Australia’s annual uranium exports could grow from $762 million today to up to $1.3 billion in 2050.”

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The plan noted that Australia was working with the UK on low emissions technology, including research into small modular reactors.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Perth radio 6PR on Tuesday he did not intend to lift the current ban on nuclear power in Australia.

“It’s a watching technology,” he said.

“We’ve always said that (lifting of the moratorium) would have to be done on a bipartisan basis.”

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