Willingness to explore the facts about nuclear energy shows Australia is waking up

World Nuclear Association (WNA) applauds news of a Royal Commission to assess whether South Australia should expand the role of nuclear energy, as announced on Sunday (8 February) by state Premier Jay Weatherill. This will lead to an objective assessment of the facts about nuclear energy and should identify the most realisable economic opportunities on offer to South Australia – and indeed the country – as well as formally recognise the immense greenhouse gas saving contribution that the technology is capable of making.

Agneta Rising WNA Director General commented: “It is only natural that a technologically sophisticated country like Australia should seek to make expanded use of the nuclear fuel cycle as it attempts to address its climate and energy challenges. The country is already home to at least one of the most advanced nuclear research and medical facilities in the world, not to mention being one of the largest suppliers of uranium.”

Despite this commendable technical and industrial heritage, the country currently makes no use of nuclear energy to generate electricity, with a law in place prohibiting this. The Royal Commission presents the chance to dispense with this fundamentally outdated and unscientific policy forever. About two-thirds of the world's population live in countries which are supplied by nuclear energy and which enjoy reliable, affordable low-emission electricity as a result.

The global nuclear industry stands ready to support the expansion of fuel-cycle activities within South Australia, and especially a reactor program. Australia's well-equipped political, legal and educational structures mean that any such program could be started swiftly – with the support of experienced international partners. This would act as a growth engine for local and regional economies where facilities are sited, creating employment and business opportunities over many decades.