Should the electricity production in Australia go nuclear?
In this entry we’ll calculate the number of reactors that would be required to produce 50% of the electricity in Australia.
Before even starting, here we state two facts:
1. Australia is the Saudi Arabia of Uranium reserves: they have 31% of the world total. The country in second place, Kazakhstan, has less than HALF Australia’s reserves.*
2. Australia has the 4th largest global reserves of Thorium.**
Other countries would certainly kill to own these amounts of fissile material.
Now, let’s make the math.
According to the IEA, Australia produced 228,152 GWh of electricity in 2013. Let’s convert this to average power:
228,152 GWh / 24 hours / 365 days = 26.045 GW. For simplicity, let’s leave it at 26 GW.
50% of the above power is 13 GW. So now let’s calculate how many 1 GWe nuclear power plants would be required to supply 13 GW of electrical power.
To be conservative, let’s say that the capacity factor of these reactors is 85%. Thus:
13 GW / 0.85 / 1GWe = 15.29 nuclear reactors. Let’s round it up to 16.
That’s it! 16 reactors is all that Australia needs to replace 50% of its electricity and thus dramatically reduce its carbon emissions (in 2013, 86.4% of Australia’s electricity was produced with combustible fuels).***
With their current reserves, Australia essentially has enough U / Th to power a civilization “forever.”
Sure, the Australian coal industry would suffer greatly, but this is probably the price that has to be paid to reduce emissions Down Under.
The growth in Australia’s electricity consumption is projected to amount to only 1.4% per year, so by 2035 they would need 22 reactors to supply 50% of its electricity. China today is building 28, so 22 should be a perfectly achievable objective for a developed country like Australia.
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Labels: Australia, coal, electricity, energy, global warming, nuclear, thorium, uranium