The nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima are fresh in the minds of many Australians. Geographically distant, yet the images that splashed across our television screens caused a groundswell of close, collective horror. Even now, some thirty years since Chernobyl, and Fukushima, almost a decade, public fear over nuclear power plants and reactors remain high.
The Commonwealth of Australia currently bans nuclear energy and has done since 19981. Recently, however, submissions were invited for an inquiry into the consideration of future nuclear energy generations in Australia.
What does the inquiry mean for asset management in the energy sector?
The government inquiry was brought in at the request of the federal Energy Minister, Mr Angus Taylor. The terms of reference for any future government’s consideration of nuclear energy generation included—among others—health and safety, environmental impacts and community engagement. The inquiry has supporters, one of whom is Bright New World, an Adelaide-based advocate for clean energy, who proclaim that nuclear power ought to be looked at as future energy source.
If the government holds a bi-partisan ban on nuclear energy, why then is the inquiry being held? The energy sector is undergoing huge transformation, not just in Australia but around the world. Many believe that weather-generated energy options are not sufficient for this nation, and the ever-increasing hike in prices for consumers only underscores that. Equally, the advance in technologies in building small modular reactors brings the explorative nature into nuclear energy to the fore.
In terms of asset management, the possibility of nuclear energy ushers in stringent and close inspection of safety, reliability and maintenance of the small modular reactors. This is paramount.
Many times at AM Council, we’ve talked about the importance of maintenance of assets. We’ve held webinars, devoted journal papers to the subject, as well as other forms of communique. Within any business or organisation, asset maintenance increases value and safety. Certainly in the energy sector the possibility of break-downs and off-line connectors are always lurking. All around Australia, energy providers are currently informing the public to be prepared for outages over the summer months as the energy source will struggle to keep up with demand. If nuclear power gets the green light (see what I did there?) in Australia, it might just tick all the boxes. However, the maintenance of assets must be factored into any emerging plans.
What are your thoughts on nuclear energy as an option for clean energy? What do you think of the inquiry? Let us know your thoughts by adding a comment. Or perhaps you’d like to join our Power in Asset Management special interest group.