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Analysis and Comment (36)

India’s nuclear power industry is rapidly becoming more transparent. India’s nuclear power industry is rapidly becoming more transparent. Flickr/IAEA Imagebank

Australian uranium deal could make Indian nuclear power safer

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is set to sign a deal with India that will allow the export of uranium to the country. There are concerns that some of the uranium will be used to produce nuclear…
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…
For years, Australia has been looking at remote Indigenous land to store its nuclear waste. But now that Muckaty is off the table, it’s time to consider big city locations. For years, Australia has been looking at remote Indigenous land to store its nuclear waste. But now that Muckaty is off the table, it’s time to consider big city locations. Caddie Brain/Flickr

Nuclear waste is safe to store in our suburbs, not just the bush

Right now, radioactive material is stored at more than 100 locations in cities and suburbs across Australia. Yet after the withdrawal of a proposed remote site for a “nuclear waste dump” at Muckaty Station…
Fishing boats stranded by the 2011 tsunami, with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. Fishing boats stranded by the 2011 tsunami, with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Book review: Fukushima

Three years ago today, Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake ever measured in that country – and Fukushima became an international by-word for disaster. Now, as Japan tries to put its past behind it…
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…
Germany’s Philippsburg nuclear power plant. Is Australia preparing to follow suit? Germany’s Philippsburg nuclear power plant. Is Australia preparing to follow suit? Lothar Neumann/Wikimedia Commons

Sure, let’s debate nuclear power – just don’t call it “low-emission

Nuclear power is back on Australia’s radar. In its recent issues paper released as a preface to September’s Energy White Paper, the Abbott government reopened the debate thus: With environmental considerations…
Not all radiation is harmful. Not all radiation is harmful. Image from shutterstock.com

Nuclear workers' risk of cancer lower than previously thought

Every job comes with risk and for those who work in the nuclear power industry the long-term risk of cancer is small but significant. Last decade, research looking into the prevalence of cancer in nuclear…
Nuclear power and nuclear weapons: what’s the difference? Nuclear power and nuclear weapons: what’s the difference? Patrik Hermansson

Debunking myths on nuclear power (it’s not for making bombs)

It is the received wisdom that nuclear weapons and nuclear power are inseparable. Consequently, any country that builds a civilian nuclear power station is able to build an atomic bomb within a couple…
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…
Safety first, but which kind of safety? Safety first, but which kind of safety? peretzp

Stuxnet is scary, but human safety should come first

Critical national infrastructure keeps our water and electricity flowing, our payments running and our manufacturing and distribution moving. This infrastructure faces a new threat in the form of cyber-attacks…
How will we know Iran will keep its side of the deal? How will we know Iran will keep its side of the deal? Otto Schade/garryknight

Uranium, plutonium, heavy water … why Iran’s nuclear deal matters

You may have seen yesterday that Iran has agreed to scale back its nuclear program for six months after two years of economic sanctions in an effort to halt, or at least alter the course of, its nuclear…
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 lack of debate in Australia about nuclear power may mean we’re not seriously considering it. A lack of debate in Australia about nuclear power may mean we’re not seriously considering it. Flickr: CaptPiper

Why don’t Australians see nuclear as a climate change solution?

In a paper recently published in Energy Policy, we (along with another colleague from Cardiff University in Wales) reported our survey of Australians' opinions about nuclear energy and global climate change…
Does the complexity of nuclear reactors mean they will never be safe? Does the complexity of nuclear reactors mean they will never be safe? EPA/TEPCO

Is Fukushima the new normal for nuclear reactors?

Last week’s crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan saw radioactive water leak again from the crippled facility, raising fears that groundwater flowing into the Pacific Ocean could be contaminated…
Costs vs carbon. Costs vs carbon. Rui Vieira/PA

Germany decisive while UK dithers on green energy routes

Germany and the UK have ambitious clean energy policies. Both have set themselves national emission reduction targets beyond the European Union’s goal of 20% below emissions levels of 1990. Germany has…
If Australia wants low emissions and energy security, it’s time to talk about nuclear. If Australia wants low emissions and energy security, it’s time to talk about nuclear. Drew Bandy

Is it time for nuclear energy for Australia?

Is it time for Australia to embrace nuclear energy? Many in Australia would say the answer is a resounding “No!”. After all, Australia is richly endowed with non-nuclear energy resources. But it really…
Few countries have pushed forward with nuclear power programmes after Fukushima. Few countries have pushed forward with nuclear power programmes after Fukushima. Tim Ireland/PA

Fukushima’s positive legacy

Just over two years after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in eastern Japan in March 2011, public attitudes worldwide remain hardened against nuclear power. It may have fallen from the…
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…
Sunrise at Sellafield: could thorium-powered reactors be a new dawn for nuclear energy? Sunrise at Sellafield: could thorium-powered reactors be a new dawn for nuclear energy? Phil Noble/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Nuclear futures: thorium could be the silver bullet to solve our energy crisis

The only source of energy that can meet global demand while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions is nuclear power. But our perception of nuclear power is coloured by issues of safety, radiotoxic waste, and…
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…
Chapelcross, Scotland: decisions over our future sources of energy won’t wait until the cows come home. Chapelcross, Scotland: decisions over our future sources of energy won’t wait until the cows come home. Magnox Sites Ltd

Nuclear subsidies: a gamble on the price of gas

Providing power to the nation is no small task. It requires considerable forward planning, involves huge costs and considerable risks. More risk and cost, in fact, than most energy providers can stomach…
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…
Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment is strong, but it’s losing out to the desire for cheap electricity. Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment is strong, but it’s losing out to the desire for cheap electricity. Magnus von Koeller

Japan can’t afford to leave nuclear power switched off

Recent data shows Japan posted a record high trade deficit of ¥6.93tn (A$73.16bn) in 2012. Japan is struggling with rising imports as it tries to replace the energy lost when it shut down of most of its…
Increased sanctions against Iran could weaken more than its national currency, the Rial. Increased sanctions against Iran could weaken more than its national currency, the Rial. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

New sanctions could be hindering progress in Iran

Bob Carr’s announcement yesterday that Australia would increase sanctions against Iran will be greeted with praise from some quarters. There is a growing understanding among analysts, diplomats and leaders…
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…
Protests over nuclear reactor sites show segments of the Indian population aren’t in favour of this potentially unsafe power source. Protests over nuclear reactor sites show segments of the Indian population aren’t in favour of this potentially unsafe power source. AAP

India’s nuclear power failures warn against uranium exports

Selling Australian uranium is reportedly at the top of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s priorities as she travels to India this week. Before she decides to do that, there are three facts she may want to…
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…
Nuclear power’s unpopularity is deserved. Nuclear power’s unpopularity is deserved. AAP

Fukushima anniversary reminds us there are better options than nuclear

It is a year since the Fukushima reactor was swamped by a tsunami, knocking out the cooling systems and causing a series of explosions. A large area is still off-limits to the local people, with about…

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