Nuclear lobby’s underground campaign against renewable energy in Australia

While Australia’s nuclear lobby has gone a bit quiet , it’s still hard at work. Its best spokesman, Australia’s Minister For Nuclear Energy, Martin Ferguson is dutifully campaigning on the nuclear lobby’s goal of stopping the progress of renewable energy. Unfortunately, Ferguson has let them down a bit, stuffing up Australia’s Draft Energy White Paper. I bet Ferguson is glad that people’s minds are on the Christmas season, and not on the inadequacies and inaccuracies of this draft.


In New South Wales, “astroturf” bodies are condemning wind power. the Waubra foundation and Landscape Gardeners are the best known of these. Behind them are pseudo environmental bodies, the Australian [against] Environment Foundation, and the rightwing Institute of Public Affairs.


Another reason why the nuclear lobby is lying low about its products is the gloomy state of the uranium market. Uranium company’s shares have dropped continuously over the year - Energy Resources of Australia’s by 82.1%, Cameco’s by 50%. Overall, uranium companies dropped by 54% over the past 12 months: it’s not just because of Fukushima.


For Australia, the bleakest news must be that China is doing a rethink and a slow-down on its nuclear power project. Disastrous for Australia’s uranium companies who are pinning their last hopes on China!


Japan has announced this “cold shutdown” at Fukushima nuclear plant. This is a creative use indeed of the term, designed to make everyone think that Fukushima is OK now. Not so – indeed this is on of the most glaring lies that the nuclear lobby has come up with.


With all the lies going on – about Fukushima being OK, about ionising radiation being good for you, about wind power being bad for you - this calls for a special focus on NUCLEAR LIES – which will be the theme of next month’s Antinuclear page.


Ferguson got renewable and other energy costs wrong


It’s a good thing the Australian Government’s recent Energy White Paper was a draft, because it appears they will be busy rewriting it. According to an article on The Australian, analysis by Bloomberg reveals figures in the Draft Energy White Paper overestimated the cost of solar power threefold and wind power by 50 per cent. Bloomberg says the paper has also underestimated the price of geothermal energy.


Bloomberg points out, as others have done, that some analysts fail to understand just how fast the cost of renewables is dropping. While calculations may be based on figures just a few years old, such data is ancient history given the evolutionary pace in the renewables sector. The Draft Energy White Paper has been widely panned by those committed to a renewable energy future for Australia and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson’s apparent enthusiasm for nuclear power has been treated with suspicion.


Minister Ferguson may be given further pause for thought after revised estimates by the Japanese government for energy costs in the nation include a 50% increase in the estimated cost of nuclear power generation.


The increase in nuclear costs has been attributed to subsidies to nuclear-hosting communities and expenses related to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, although whether the increase is sufficient to account for the unsettled costs of the disaster is being questioned by some.


While the Draft Energy White Paper played down the role of renewable energy, it also attempted to bolster the reputation of fossil fuel sources such as coal seam gas (CSG). Greens Senator and environmental lawyer Larissa Waters last week claimed the White Paper sang the praises of coal seam gas without recognising any of its devastating costs.


“This paper appears to have been written by someone living in a last-century bubble, with no consideration of the impacts of coal seam gas beyond the industry spin,” Senator Waters said. ”How can you possibly plan for Australia’s energy future without factoring in the true costs of this energy source – the costs to water, to land, the environment and the climate, as well as the economic impacts on other industries?”



"The LOCK THE GATE Alliance is a national alliance of over 120 community, industry and environmental groups and over 1000 supporters concerned with the devastating impact that certain inadequately assessed and inadequately-regulated fossil fuel extraction industries are having on our short and long term physical, social, environmental and economic wellbeing. We are particularly concerned with the damage caused by the coal and coal seam gas (CSG) mining industries."


By Christina Macpherson, publisher of Antinuclear