Australian Climate Authority members have zero net need by 2040 – Rising with that?

Essay by Eric Worrall

A surprisingly timid target from a member of Tim Flannery’s climate panel.

Australia will reach net zero by 2040, says new member of the Climate Change Agency

Exclusive: Professor Lesley Hughes, a climate expert appointed this week, said the current target was not good enough

Graham Readfearn @readfearn Saturday, September 17, 2022 06:00 AEST

A new scientific member of the government’s revamped Climate Change Agency says Australia should aim to reach net zero at least a decade by 2050.

Professor Lesley Hughes, a biologist and climate change expert, said Australia’s current climate target for 2030 was “not good enough” but said the new government was showing a willingness to science listening.

Hughes is one of the three new female dates Energy Secretary Chris Bowen announced it earlier this week to address concerns that the agency’s board has weighed heavily on business and fossil fuels.

The Albanese government has legislated a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels – up from the Morrison government’s 26 per cent cut.

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My question, why not set a goal to 2035? Or 2030?

Australia’s highest electricity usage is 32GW. World Nuclear gives the cost of a new plant as $2500 / KWh in China. So $2500 x 100,000 x 32 = $80 billion to remove CO2 emissions from Aussie electricity.

I am using China figures, because I am assuming a factor of mass production efficiency, as France achieved in the 1970s, or China is achieving today.

How long does it take to build a nuclear plant? Around 5 years according to the world nuclear. But you don’t necessarily have to build them all at once – they can all be built in parallel.

There are 55 nuclear plants under construction – so there are plenty of nuclear engineers ready to assist in Australia’s mass build-out of nuclear power capacity. Retired senior nuclear engineers would come out of the lumberyard to support such a project.

Starting today, Australia could reach net zero by 2027. Or if we add a few more years for politicians to act together, including 12-24 months for some locals to train to become nuclear plant operatorsso let’s say 2030.

Of course, we won’t need 32GW power all the time, that’s the peak power demand. Most of the time the demand is much lower. So building 32GW of nuclear power would provide a huge amount of low-cost surplus carbon electricity to industry, such as aluminum smelters, so Australia can climb up the value chain by sell a higher percentage of processed minerals. Some of that energy could also be used for cheap overnight recharging of electric vehicles. Renewables struggle to provide good output at night – even winds tend to drop after sunset.

If you think these numbers are oddly optimistic, we have proof that they are. France converts electricity from fossil fuels nuclear in the 1970s, most of their electricity still comes from nuclear reactors. The French drive is more energy security than climate change, but if climate change is indeed an emergency, the French have laid out a roadmap that others can follow. Some of the engineers who converted France into carbon-free nuclei in two decades are still alive and able to share their knowledge.

My point is, Professor Lesley Hughes of the Climate Advisor doesn’t need to be so timid. Especially since Climate Council says wind and solar are cheaper than coaland battery storage is doable, so there’s no doubt her Australian transition to renewables numbers are even more upbeat than mine.

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