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Analysis and Comment (43)

Now we need a hole big enough. Nuclear waste by Shutterstock. Now we need a hole big enough. Nuclear waste by Shutterstock. F.Schmidt

Britain’s nuclear waste, a problem proving hard to bury

A proposal for radioactive waste to appear at a burial site nearby, would be likely to fill the great majority of the UK population with thoughts of danger, cancer – and falling house prices. This illustrates…
Big may be beautiful but it’s also inflexible and expensive. Big may be beautiful but it’s also inflexible and expensive. Andrew Parsons/PA

Small nuclear reactors may be the key to a low-carbon future

Take a hard look at the painful process of de-carbonising the UK’s electricity supply, and it’s clear that the options on the table are not great. From the outset, changes to the system generate further…
Superheated plasma inside the tokamak reactor, a split second before a fusion reaction. Superheated plasma inside the tokamak reactor, a split second before a fusion reaction. Scott Silburn/James Harrison/Alex Meakins

For decades a distant dream, the countdown to nuclear fusion may have finally begun

The latest results from the National Ignition Facility in the US represent the passing of a nuclear fusion power milestone and come after a year of significant progress at projects in France and the UK…
This Russian-built nuclear power plant in India may be one of many soon appearing in developing countries. This Russian-built nuclear power plant in India may be one of many soon appearing in developing countries. Rafiq Maqbool/AP

Nations' nuclear ambitions not discouraged by few suppliers

UN inspectors descend on Iran this week to visit the Arak heavy water plant, and engineers at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan attempt one of the most challenging nuclear salvage operations…
Can Scotland generate enough energy to go it alone, or is it blowing in the wind? Can Scotland generate enough energy to go it alone, or is it blowing in the wind? Ben Curtis/PA

Scotland benefits by paying for its energy, not UK’s mistakes

Could Scotland benefit from having an independent electricity system? Our report published this week found that it could – if it meant Scotland paying for (and benefiting from) its own renewable energy…
Concerns over nuclear energy mean Japan is moving back to fossil fuels. Concerns over nuclear energy mean Japan is moving back to fossil fuels. EPA/TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA

Climate targets are the fallout from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Japan has announced it is significantly reducing its greenhouse gas reduction target. It now aims to achieve a 3.8% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 versus 2005 levels. The new target amounts to…
Floating nuclear power station under construction. Floating nuclear power station under construction. Rosenergoatom

Russia’s floating nuclear plants to power remote Arctic regions

Though Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas, it is embarking on an ambitious and somewhat imaginative programme of building floating nuclear power stations. These are part of Russia’s…
David Cameron’s government has got their new nuclear power stations - but at what cost? David Cameron’s government has got their new nuclear power stations - but at what cost? Tim Ireland/PA

New nuclear is a lose-lose situation for Britain

The first new nuclear power station in Britain in nearly 20 years is to be built, an announcement that comes only two and a half years after the disaster at Fukushima focused the world’s attention the…
The future Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (centre), with older reactors. The future Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (centre), with older reactors. EDF

Hinkley C goes ahead, but future nuclear costs must fall

There has long been talk of the need for a “nuclear renaissance”, and now it seems underway. The deal has been struck that would see the first new British nuclear power station in a generation. But is…
A vote for the future? A vote for the future? AAP/Lukas Coch

Election 2013 Essays: Australia for the long term

Election 2013 Essays: As the federal election campaign draws to a close, The Conversation asked eminent thinkers to reflect on the state of the nation and the challenges Australia – and whichever party…
Copper clad, steel containers for geological disposal: what the best dressed nuclear waste is wearing in Sweden these days. Copper clad, steel containers for geological disposal: what the best dressed nuclear waste is wearing in Sweden these days. kallerna/Wikipedia

Reaping nuclear rewards means paying the costs

It was said originally that nuclear-powered electricity would be “too cheap to meter”, but in the current climate it is nuclear’s capacity to deliver secure, low-carbon energy that appeals. We all use…
Should Australia go beyond exporting uranium “yellowcake” and consider fabricating nuclear fuel rods? Should Australia go beyond exporting uranium “yellowcake” and consider fabricating nuclear fuel rods? Flickr/NNSA News

Should Australia’s manufacturing future be nuclear?

It is not the first time in Australia’s economic history that a prevalent sector reaches its peak and gives way to a rapidly developing new one. However, while the mining and education sectors have apparently…
Some of us learned to stop worrying and love the bomb; some of us didn’t. Some of us learned to stop worrying and love the bomb; some of us didn’t. Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Nuclear futures: how 20th century atomic science played on our hopes and fears

Radioactivity is dramatic. You can’t smell it, taste it, or see it. You may be powerless to avoid it. Nuclear history is a story of dramatic contrasts, of hope and tragedy. Worldwide excitement over Marie…
The roots of Germany’s anti-nuclear stance go back many decades, and are stronger than ever today. The roots of Germany’s anti-nuclear stance go back many decades, and are stronger than ever today. Memkaos/Flickr

Nuclear futures: renewables blossom in Germany’s post-nuclear vision

When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan was hit by a tsunami in March 2011, the disaster had a profound effect on German energy policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel reasoned that “Fukushima…
Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Flickr/Cayusa

Nuclear futures: tough decisions needed to keep Britain’s lights on

Our nuclear reactors have reached the end of their lives, North Sea oil is running out, coal is dirty: Britain faces an energy crisis of rising demand and falling supply. In our Nuclear Futures series…
Environmentalism attacked nuclear power, which may have damaged long-term sustainability goals. Environmentalism attacked nuclear power, which may have damaged long-term sustainability goals. Olivier Hoslet

Serious about emissions? It’s time to embrace nuclear

After clear warnings from scientists more than 20 years ago, the issues of human-caused climate change and fossil-fuel-dominated energy should be on the way into the environmental history books. Sadly…
Excluding nuclear from Australia’s future energy scenarios doesn’t give the full picture. Excluding nuclear from Australia’s future energy scenarios doesn’t give the full picture. Gold Auraque

Energy White Paper is hazy on future vision for nuclear

The Energy White Paper 2012 (EWP2012), released by the Australian Government last week, seeks to map out a strategic policy framework for future energy supply. One of the major goals of EWP2012 is to provide…
Several countries have backed away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Several countries have backed away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. http://www.theenvironmentalblog.org/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/environmentblog

Fossil fuel subsidies up, nuclear power down: IEA

Market-distorting fossil fuel subsidies rose 30% from 2010 to 2011, stymying efforts to boost the renewables sector and reduce greenhouse emissions worldwide, a new global report has found. The 2012 World…
In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japan is phasing out nuclear power. In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japan is phasing out nuclear power. EPA/Julien Warnand

Is Japan’s nuclear-free pathway an environmentally friendly choice?

On 14 September 2012, the Japanese Government considered a new policy that excited many self-proclaimed environmentalists and anti-nuclear power protestors. Following intense political wrangling, they…
No such thing as a free lunch: nuclear power can do what many renewable energy systems have not yet done on a large scale - deliver. No such thing as a free lunch: nuclear power can do what many renewable energy systems have not yet done on a large scale - deliver. Flickr/Gretchen Mahan

Low-carbon electricity must be fit-for-service (and nuclear power is)

To paraphrase George Orwell: “All electricity is created equal, but some of its generating technologies are more equal than others”. This is a crucial point – emphasised but typically overlooked – in the…
Despite a purported commitment to renewables, France’s new President will likely be outmaneuvered by the country’s nuclear industry. Despite a purported commitment to renewables, France’s new President will likely be outmaneuvered by the country’s nuclear industry. AAP

Hollande may not like it, but French nuclear is full steam ahead

The recent meeting of European Energy Ministers has exposed a Germany-France rift on the role of nuclear power. Post-Fukushima, Germany is investing heavily in solar power; so is Italy. But a French spokesperson…
Protesters in Seoul are right to be sceptical about the prospect of nuclear security. Protesters in Seoul are right to be sceptical about the prospect of nuclear security. EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

The apocalyptic promises of the Seoul nuclear security summit

It could all be a fanciful face lift, a matter of pure appearance. Behind the pretty face of a regulated nuclear world, the somewhat more lethal effects of meltdown and its associated dangers are concealed…
We should be investigating all options if we’re serious about reducing emissions. We should be investigating all options if we’re serious about reducing emissions. saturdave/Flickr

Don’t dismiss nuclear, whatever the political difficulties

Australia aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (compared with 2000 levels). This will be achieved by substituting renewable energy and gas for coal and adopting carbon capture…
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House in early March, 2012. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House in early March, 2012. EPA/Martin H Simon

On Iran, Obama shows he loves Israel a little too much

A key facet of America’s extended, depressing election campaigns is that every serious presidential candidate has to prove their fanatical, unswerving devotion to the Israeli government. As part of this…
Iran is constructing nuclear power stations; that much is clear. Iran is constructing nuclear power stations; that much is clear. AAP

Could Iran be building nuclear weapons? A scientific perspective

There is much concern that Iran is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. Such a development, we’re told, could induce Israel to launch a unilateral military strike with all types of unpredictable…
The aftermath of a bombing in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist. The aftermath of a bombing in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist. EPA/STR

Are we stumbling towards war with Iran?

Relations between Iran and the United States and its ally Israel have descended into the worst crisis in years. Concern is growing that the situation could quickly degenerate into conflict. The origins…
Japan has lost its taste for nuclear, which means higher emissions and less energy security. Japan has lost its taste for nuclear, which means higher emissions and less energy security. AAP

Powering Japan after Fukushima

Recently, Jenny Corbett, Executive Director of the Australia-Japan Research School at ANU, sat down with Tatsuo Hatta, Professor Emeritus at Osaka University and a former President of the Japanese Economic…
There’s no shortage of hype around thorium, but how justified is the excitement? There’s no shortage of hype around thorium, but how justified is the excitement? AzureGrackel

Thoughts from a thorium ‘symposium’

You have probably heard at least a little about thorium. There are certainly advocates out there who strongly believe it could help solve the world’s energy problems. The idea is that thorium-based nuclear…
The Federal Government’s draft energy white paper outlines a future where Australia still depends on fossil fuels. The Federal Government’s draft energy white paper outlines a future where Australia still depends on fossil fuels. AAP

Australia’s draft energy white paper misses the big picture

The release of Australia’s draft energy white paper has outlined a future where Australia continues to be largely dependent on fossil fuels, embraces uranium and expands existing deregulation and privatisation…
India’s power needs are growing at a staggering rate and coal won’t do the job. India’s power needs are growing at a staggering rate and coal won’t do the job. NASA

How do you power a billion lives?

As the Australian Labor Party changes its stance on trading uranium with India, a pertinent question arises: why is India so keen to buy this controversial fuel? And what do India’s energy resources look…
India has ambitious plans to expand nuclear power. India has ambitious plans to expand nuclear power. Truthout.org

How will Australian uranium affect India’s energy mix?

Earlier this week, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard indicated she wants to reverse the ban on selling uranium to India. India’s government has welcomed the idea. Australia has close to 40% of…
Exporting uranium carries a risk not just in Australia, but all over the world. Exporting uranium carries a risk not just in Australia, but all over the world. Mad House Photography

Expanding Olympic Dam: with great power comes great responsibility

The South Australian and Federal governments have approved another expansion at Olympic Dam. This expansion raises some very important questions about Australia’s role in the future of global energy and…
Solar is now a viable industry that should be taken seriously. Solar is now a viable industry that should be taken seriously. AFP Photo/Sakis Mitrolidis

Solar will force coal and nuclear out of the energy business

A solar energy revolution is brewing that will put the coal and nuclear industries out of business. Solar is already reaching price parity with coal in many parts of Australia. In contrast to coal and…
Thorium won’t help us surmount all the concerns about nuclear power. Thorium won’t help us surmount all the concerns about nuclear power. HeyRocker/flickr

Thorium is no silver bullet when it comes to nuclear energy, but it could play a role

As the world grapples with the competing imperatives of the tragic fallout from the Fukushima meltdown, and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some are turning to new forms of nuclear…
The move away from nuclear energy may be counterproductive. The move away from nuclear energy may be counterproductive. Greenpeace Finland

We can’t abandon nuclear now

It won’t surprise many people that world carbon emissions have failed to slow down, but the fact we’re now at risk of surpassing targets set for nine years hence, intended to limit the global rise in temperature…
Does a level 7 mean Fukushima is as bad as Chernobyl? Does a level 7 mean Fukushima is as bad as Chernobyl? Flickr/exquisitur

Experts respond: Is Fukushima more serious than we thought?

The Fukushima incident has been upgraded to an INES Level 7 of severity. The Australian Science Media Centre asked three experts what this means. Dr Pradip Deb is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Radiations…
An accident in a nuclear station is much more worrying than an accident at a wind turbine. An accident in a nuclear station is much more worrying than an accident at a wind turbine. Flickr/Jaako

No need for nuclear, even in the face of climate change

Before the Fukushima reactor was swamped by a tsunami, there had been a wave of enthusiasm for nuclear power. The problems in Japan have probably ended the risk of Australia going down the nuclear path…
Newer reactors are ten times as safe as the Fukushima power plant. Newer reactors are ten times as safe as the Fukushima power plant. AAP

Is the nuclear power plant at Fukushima the best we can do?

Does the design and construction employed at Fukushima really represent the best that can be done in nuclear power? Is it inevitable that a nuclear power plant will be overwhelmed by a magnitude nine earthquake…
Is the nuclear industry facing unfair criticism? Is the nuclear industry facing unfair criticism? AFP Photo/Don Emmert

Nuclear will survive, because it has to

Japan relies on nuclear power for about 30% of its electricity. It has few natural resources and imports large quantities of coal, gas and oil at an ever increasing cost. Some Japanese people are not in…
Nuclear safety comes at a price that may make the industry unviable. Nuclear safety comes at a price that may make the industry unviable. AAP

Fukushima aftershocks could spell the end of the nuclear renaissance

While the Japanese earthquake aftershocks will stop in a few months time, allowing Japan to recover, the shocks may prove terminal for the green nuclear renaissance. In the week since Japan was rocked…

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