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Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy
Prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia

AMEGLIO, Ms Pamela, Executive Committee Member, Women in Nuclear Australia Inc.

GADD, Mrs Patricia, Committee Member, Women in Nuclear Australia Inc.

GARSIDE, Ms Julia, President, Australian Young Generation in Nuclear

HARRIES, Dr John, Secretary, Australian Nuclear Association

HO, Dr Mark, President, Australian Nuclear Association

MILTHORPE, Mr Julian, Vice President, Australian Young Generation in Nuclear

PARKER, Mr Robert, Founder, Nuclear For Climate Australia

Committee met at 9:00

CHAIR ( Mr Ted O'Brien ): I declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy for the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia. The inquiry terms of reference asked the committee to examine circumstances and prerequisites necessary for any future government's consideration of nuclear energy generation. In accordance with the committee's resolution of 24 July 2019, this hearing will be broadcast on the parliament's website and proof and official transcripts of proceedings will be published on the website. Those present here today are advised that filming and recording are permitted during the hearing. I remind members of the media who may be present or listening online of the need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee.

I welcome representatives of the Australian Nuclear Association, Australian Young Generation in Nuclear and Women in Nuclear Australia. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as proceedings of the House. Giving false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of Parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded by Hansard and attracts parliamentary privilege. I now invite each of you to make an opening statement before we proceed to discussion.

Dr Ho : Thank you. First, let me thank the committee for the invitation to appear at today's public hearing on the prerequisites for nuclear power in Australia. I'm the President of the Australian Nuclear Association, an independent incorporated scientific institution whose members include scientists and engineers from the nuclear profession. The ANA advocates for the peaceful, safe and effective use of nuclear technology in Australia. We periodically engage with the community, government and industry on the discussion around nuclear technology and science. The organisation has no paid positions. We work in the service of the public to disseminate factual and accurate information on the current state of nuclear science and technology around the world.

Before we begin I would like to declare that the statements we are about to make are our own opinions, separate and independent from other businesses and institutes that we might otherwise represent.

In opening, the ANA would like to submit to the committee that nuclear power has a vital role to play in Australia's clean energy future. Nuclear power provides a safe, clean, zero emissions baseload generation. Nuclear power is extremely reliable, with a maximum capacity factor of 92 percent. Nuclear plants use much less land than either solar or wind farms for the same amount of energy produced. With an operational life of at least 40 to 60 years, the longevity of nuclear plants far outstrips all competing forms of energy. Nuclear power is tightly regulated by law and must account for its waste, which, again, is small for the amount of power it produces.

In countries such as France or South Korea nuclear power is the major source of low-cost electricity. As a low carbon, dispatchable source of electricity, nuclear is ideal for the backup of intermittent renewable energy sources. In future energy systems nuclear power can contribute to energy affordability by providing dispatchable generation and grid inertia. In the near future small modular reactors promise to lower the price of electricity with lower capital costs, reducing construction times from eight to three years compared with large nuclear plants.

For these reasons nuclear power is a key component of many countries' plans for a clean-energy future. With 450 reactors operating around the world, nuclear power is a proven form of clean and reliable electricity generation. Every year Australia exports enough uranium to power the equivalent energy demands of the entire National Electricity Market, yet federal legislation prohibits it serious consideration. The ANA hopes that the current state and federal inquiries into nuclear power will enhance the public's and the parliament's understanding and this may one day lead to its safe and regulated use in Australia. Having made these statements, the ANA welcomes the committee's questions. Thank you.

Ms Garside : Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak. Julian and I will be speaking on behalf of Australian Young Generation in Nuclear. Any views expressed by myself and Julian are representative of either our own views or that of AusYGN. Today the specific focus for us is on the workforce planning term of reference, as we believe that our activities pertain predominantly to this aspect.

I would therefore like to take a few moments to introduce you to our organisation. AusYGN is dedicated to ensuring that all Australians continue to gain the maximum benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology by engaging and supporting young Australians in the nuclear industry. We aim to develop and expand the network of young professionals in nuclear science and technology, as well as to support the youth of Australia in taking up careers in the nuclear industry, create professional development opportunities and facilitate intergenerational knowledge transfer, as the nuclear industry consists of an ageing workforce.

Over the past two years AusYGN has grown by over 400 percent, with a current membership base of just over 218 members, 89 percent of whom are Australian. Our community has representatives from a variety of different industries, including but not limited to decommissioning, waste management, reactor operations, government agencies, universities, research, mining, health and energy. Of this membership, almost half are students. We are also part of an international network of young professionals in nuclear called the International Youth Nuclear Congress.

As such, it is clear that there is an interested and engaged workforce for a potential nuclear power industry in Australia. AusYGN does not believe that Australia currently has sufficiently skilled personnel with the required competence levels to operate a nuclear power industry. However, the lead time required for the adoption of the necessary regulatory and legislative changes, as well as the construction and commissioning of a facility, means that there is an opportunity to prepare for this potential industry effectively. We welcome your questions.

Ms Ameglio : Good morning. My colleague and I are here representing Women in Nuclear Australia, which is the Australian chapter of Women in Nuclear Global, also known as WIN Global. We are both members of the Women in Nuclear Australia committee and therefore represent the views of the committee and our members. Thank you for having us speak at this important meeting. The rest of the WIN committee would have liked to have been here but have other obligations.

I'll read out a statement shortly, but I would like to make the following points on record. The peaceful application of nuclear and radiological technology, including nuclear energy, provides many benefits to people, society and the environment. The global WIN community sees nuclear energy technology as a key part of the solution in the fight against climate change. Noting that Australia has signed up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN acknowledges that women and children are more gravely affected by poverty, natural disasters, climate change and inequality, Women In Nuclear Australia supports the move away from fossil fuel energy generation towards sources that will improve the lives of the world's poorest and those that will be most impacted by climate change.

I now move on to read our statement. Women in Nuclear Global is a not-for-profit association of women and individuals of other genders who are professionally in various fields of nuclear technology and radiological applications. WIN has over 35,000 members from 110 countries worldwide. One of the aims of WIN is to promote understanding and public awareness of the benefits of peaceful nuclear and radiological applications, including nuclear energy, especially amongst women and young people. WIN Australia includes members working in professions such as research, nuclear operations, security, health care, medicine, waste management, regulatory authorities, mining, nuclear radiation safety, industry, policy and communications. WIN Australia values its position as a professional organisation and seeks to inform this debate through expertise and neutrality, rather than lobbying.

In 2015 WIN Global produced a document known as Women in Nuclear declaration for the earth climate. This declaration calls for immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions that include nuclear energy as an option. WIN Australia acknowledges the UN's sustainability development goals and understands that sustainable and reliable energy is a key part of meeting these goals. With around 1 billion people worldwide still without access to electricity, there is still much work to be done.

We would like the standing committee to note that nuclear energy is a proven, low-emissions technology. It is a very low emissions technology with advanced safety management. The types of nuclear reactors under construction in the world today align with Australia's high standards and expectations for health and safety. Due to nuclear energy's low mining resource and land use requirements, high energy density and extremely low greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear energy is a feasible and suitable technology for Australia in terms of its low environmental impacts.

We recommend firstly, that the committee recommends that the federal ban on nuclear energy be overturned; secondly, in order to allow an educated community engagement and public debate, current legislation regarding nuclear power should be updated to allow nuclear power to be considered as part of the energy mix for reducing Australia's carbon emissions; thirdly, any discussion on Australia's use of nuclear energy needs to consider the advances in nuclear energy, reactor design and fuel design in order to ensure that Australia adopts the most up-to-date, safe and secure technology, rather than making decisions based on 1960s to 1980s reactor technology. WIN Australia thanks the standing committee for considering the submission and inviting us here for further questions today.

CHAIR: Thank you. Two of the terms of reference we have relate to community engagement and also national consensus, in addition to other terms of reference. A few days ago, or maybe it was over the weekend, a Roy Morgan poll was published, suggesting that 51 per cent of respondents say Australia should develop nuclear power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but the responses seem to differ considerably based on gender. They reported that 65 per cent of men were in support versus 38 per cent of women. Therefore, I thought I might take this opportunity to—maybe starting with Women in Nuclear Australia—get your response, not necessarily to that one poll, but, generally, do you see women having a different view on the issue of nuclear energy compared to men, given what your day-to-day focus is. As you're responding, maybe Australian Young Generation in Nuclear can think about their opinion as to whether or not Australians of different generations think about this issue in a different way. To bring in the Australian Nuclear Association, can you mention any other thoughts you have on that broader topic of public engagement consensus and where the thinking of Australians is at. Maybe we'll start with Ms Ameglio or Mrs Gadd.

Ms Ameglio : I do not have the results of that most recent poll. However, Women in Nuclear is very much focused on educating the public, and women and young people in general, about nuclear energy. I wonder if the results of the poll are an indication of the access to information that people have around nuclear energy and its uses as well as a perception of some of the myths that are perpetuated around nuclear energy and nuclear technologies in general rather than the factual basis that we are trying to inform the public on. It is part of our mission to continue our goal of educating the broader public, and women and the youth in general.

Ms Garside : That's a really interesting question. I suppose we'll be looking more at the focus around young Australians and their interaction with the question around nuclear energy and their engagement with that. We do have a good representation within our organisation from a variety of different areas. Like I said, almost half of our memberships are students.

I don't have any statistics on this one here, but I do believe that young Australians are very concerned about our future and where we're taking things in this current state. As part of that, they're looking for the information and the statistics and the facts in order to allow them to make informed decisions. We see our function as enabling that connection between what questions they have and the answers to them. I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't have any statistics to provide to you, but it's that the young generation is particularly interested in finding out information for themselves and convincing themselves about what the best pathway forward is.

Dr Ho : The Australian Nuclear Association has a social media presence as well. What is interesting, from our perspective, is that over the last couple of years we have actually detected a shift in the perception of people's attitudes towards nuclear power, leaning towards being more positive. I'll quote a couple of other surveys that the committee might also be already aware of—for instance, in the ANU survey in terms of people's attitudes towards science and technology. This was back in 2017. I think they surveyed people on campus. The sample size was about a thousand. What was really interesting was that the amount of people for and against nuclear power was almost dead even. There was actually a fifty-fifty split down the mean. What's interesting from the survey is that nuclear power was even more popular than some people's attitudes towards gas fracking, with 70 per cent against it. This is important given the current situation—for example, in South Australia—where most of the backup in energy supply to wind power is pretty much gas. To put that in context, if we want to look at Australia's future energy mix, if we don't have nuclear power but perhaps have lots and lots of intermittent renewables backed up by gas, the question is: where's that gas coming from and would it be from gas fracking sources? Then we have to take into account what people's attitudes to that are going to be. So that's one thing.

Another recent poll, created by the Nine Network on social media—a Facebook page—showed 65 per cent of people were for nuclear power as opposed to 35 per cent against. This is actually from a rather large sample size, of about 25,000. The Roy Morgan poll that you just mentioned is actually rather modest, at a sample size of, I believe, about a thousand. But I think what's really interesting from that poll is that people are actually seeing the connection between nuclear power and the need to decarbonise. When the question was asked about whether Australians would consider using nuclear power in the context of decarbonisation, the amount of votes for was actually even larger than when they were asked to only consider using nuclear power without decarbonisisation. I think it was about 45 per cent, or something like that, but I can check.

So, separately from all this, I talk with my ANA membership. One of our members, Anna Binnie, who was at the ANA conference earlier last week, travels around Australia, and she said to me that there is this burning question of what will become of Australia's future energy mix and what will power Australia tomorrow. She told me there are a lot of rural communities that are right out at the far end of the grid, and usually when there is not enough energy to go around they're the communities that get cut off first. One of these stories was that communities get taken offline, perhaps even upwards of four days, and they're very let down by the authority, who ought to provide robust electrical needs. So, on top of that, she said, 'If, in the future, we can actually get low-cost nuclear power that can be deployed out in the rural areas and if it were cheap enough so that it could be purchased cooperatively or if it were low enough a capital expenditure so that maybe a large business group could purchase it or the council could fund it, they would seriously consider this.' Of course this is just one case, and it's just one data point, but it's somewhat indicative of the changing perspective of people, especially out in the rural regions, and attitudes towards nuclear power.

I also asked her, 'What do you think is actually behind this change in the perception of people?' She told me that she thought a lot of it is to do with millennials, a generational change in terms of the attitude towards nuclear power. Young people receive information and news differently from previous generations. They take news from many, many different sources, not necessarily, say, just from The Sydney Morning Herald or any a large media outlet. They do their own research. I think there's enough valuable and accurate information about nuclear power so that young people can make up their own mind about it. This really is a strong reason why we are seeing an increasing amount of support towards nuclear power.

CHAIR: Before I move on, does anyone who hasn't spoken want to add anything? If not, Mrs Phillips.

Mrs PHILLIPS: I want to thank you. The great cause is obviously workforce planning and reducing emissions. My question is probably to all of you. Much of the evidence received so far indicates that nuclear takes too long and costs far too much to be considered in Australia. That is the evidence of Ziggy Switkowski and it was the conclusion of the South Australian royal commission. Do you agree?

CHAIR: That's pretty much open to the entire panel, Ms Phillips?

Mrs PHILLIPS: Yes, anyone.

CHAIR: Maybe Dr Harries could start.

Dr Harries : Certainly, Ziggy has said that. If you look at the costs around the world now, there are some expensive reactors, but, really, we're talking about a long-term issue. If it takes 10 years from now to get the first reactor up, commercial and running, then this issue of carbon emissions is a continuing one that will continue into the future. We'd have to have a long-term view. Nuclear plant has been built in other countries in much quicker times—you're talking about, say, eight years from the beginning of construction to connecting to the grid—this is quite manageable. These are times which would allow nuclear to be brought into Australia within, say, 10 years if we were serious. But we have to go through the first step. We have to make the process work. You mentioned cost in your question. Costs are a bit variable—certainly the costs in the United Arab Emirates and Korea are very much lower than the first-of-a-kind cost in, say, the expensive plants in the US, in Finland and perhaps the UK. But, in each case, once you get into a regular production line the costs come down a lot. The OECD studies of the costs of nuclear show that cost is competitive. What it would be in Australia, we would need to get a proper project, I suppose, but nuclear is competitive with other forms of electricity.

CHAIR: Does anybody else want to add a response to that question?

Ms Ameglio : Yes. I'd like to support what Dr Harries has just mentioned in terms of comparative costs. I would refer the standing committee to a recently published Industry Super publication, Modernising electricity sectors, which compares the cost of building various types of energy generation sources. In it is a comparison between solar, wind, thermal and nuclear power generating capital projects. The costs are quite variable, depending on whether it is established technology or we're following tried and tested technologies. I'd like to reiterate that building multiple units of the same design and following international best practice greatly reduces the capital costs and reduces the time in which these projects may be built.

CHAIR: Would anybody else like to respond to that question?

Ms Garside : I have a small additional note. We do not have any statistics or further information that we can provide specifically to that. However, we would encourage the committee to consider that the statement was the cost was too much and took too long. That is something that we would strongly considering in the context of the other options and of the pros and cons for each of the options and whether they actually provide the intended outcome in the long term, as well.

Dr Ho : If I may add a final note. I believe the quotation about the high price was actually traced back to an AEMO report of a figure of $16,000 per kilowatt of capacity. I believe that this number is rather on the high end of estimates for a gen IV reactor design and is actually not reflective of the current pricing of the average build cost. The high-end quotation of the UAE project—four 1.6 gigawatt reactors—is US$25 billion. If you divide that price by the amount of generation capacity, you get a figure of about $4.4 million, or $4,400 per kilowatt of capacity, which is much lower than the quoted figure of $16,000 per kilowatt. So that is one thing.

The other thing is that a recent MIT study of future SMR technologies has an overnight cost—that is, the cost if you were able to magically build the power plant overnight and you divide the price by the capacity—of $4,000 to $5,000 per kilowatt of capacity. A near-term design, which is NuScale, is quoting a price of $4,350 per kilowatt of capacity. That can be built in three years. But that is only for the first of a kind. The figure improves with, say, the construction of the 10th small modular reactor—the nth of a kind. The price falls to about $3,600 per kilowatt of capacity.

However, having said all this about overnight costs, what I always stress when it comes to nuclear power is that it does many things, not just supply electricity. Remember, when you have a nuclear power plant, it is on 92 per cent of the time. Therefore, the capacity factor—it's availability to deliver electricity to the grid—is very high compared to, say, intermittent sources, which might be as low as 30 per cent. That's one thing.

The other thing is that, if you look at the life cycle, with nuclear power plants being able to operate beyond possibly 60 years, it is actually a long-term investment. Once they are constructed, they stay on the grid for a very long time. So, in some ways, you can say you are future-proofing the nation in terms of electricity supply. And given that these are concentrated forms of power that can be replacing, say, coal-fired power plants in the existing grid infrastructure, there is no need to build more expensive transmission lines to harvest the diffuse electricity coming from, say, solar and wind farms. It is important to note that additional costs are not often quoted for intermittent, variable renewable energy sources.

Dr GILLESPIE: Mrs Ameglio and Mrs Gadd, in your presentation you had some interesting figures. You talked about 'myths that are perpetuated'. You said at page 23 of your submission that 'unlike other toxic waste, the principal hazard with nuclear waste is radioactivity, which diminishes over time'. You are stating that by the time you bury the used nuclear fuel 60 or 70 years later—99 per cent of the radioactivity is gone in the first 40 years. Could you expound on that. A lot of people think any nuclear waste is active for half a million years. That is the figure often thrown out. Is that the myth you are talking about? Could you elaborate on that.

Ms Ameglio : I will give you some background on nuclear fuel in particular. radionuclides are of varying types and half-lives. Over time, the bulk of those that are within nuclear fuel decay to nothing—in that period of 40 years. What is left are the long-lived radioisotopes which we need to manage and for which we require long-term storage. Many people—and this is where the myth comes in—focus on that very small amount of long-lived radioisotopes with high activity rather than considering that the bulk of the waste that we generate from nuclear fuel, nuclear energy production and other peaceful means of using nuclear energy and radioactivity actually do to decay over time and can be safely managed with well-understood procedures for handling and storage.

Dr Harries : The question of radioactive waste keeps coming up. As Pamela said, the stuff keeps decaying away. The important thing is that long-term radioactive waste is a solid; it is an insoluble matrix. It is stuff which is easy to manage and it has been well-managed around the world. The other thing is that, with radioactivity, these are standard elements that are known about. We know what chemistry is and we know the way they react. In the waste, the stuff which is radioactive is a standard chemical element and we know how it behaves. The ability to lock it away in an insoluble matrix is well-understood.

There is long experience around the world with handling this material. Once it is contained, it is only the radiation which comes out, which is readily shielded. It is one of those issues which can be readily looked after. Ultimately, it will go into a geological disposal facility—and this is earth which already has radioactive elements in it. If one goes into an area which has a suitable geology, it is straightforward, with enough effort, to study how much material is transported from that waste. I think it can be readily managed.

Mr PITT: In terms of risk from other types of chemicals, if we compare this to heavy metals, asbestos or anything else that currently exists, do they deteriorate, in terms of their risk, over a period of time?

Dr Harries : The thing about radioactive material is that it does decay away with time and it continues to decay away. But asbestos, arsenic and a lot of the hazardous materials that we readily use at the moment, and dispose of, last forever and there is no decay—so in a thousand years or a million years it is still there and it is still a problem.

Ms STEGGALL: Dr Ho, you said to us in your opening statement that it is very important for us to have factual, accurate and independent information. Am I right in understanding that the submission the ANA has put forward is based on the EPC modelling, from a financial point of view? That is what you have referred to on a number of pages in the report. Is that right?

Dr Ho : I believe so. The author of that section of the report is our vice-president, Rob Parker, who can be called to the committee.

Ms STEGGALL: You are identified as being one of the authors of the EPC model—along with Barry Murphy, a former chairman of Caltex, who we will be speaking to later, and Barrie Hill, a director of SMR Nuclear Technology, who we'll be hearing from as well. So would you agree that it is not entirely independent, from that point of view?

Dr Ho : The figures are reflective of what is current in the industry. The report you are talking about was partly authored by Rob Barr, who is also the president of the Electric Energy Society of Australia.

Ms STEGGALL: Let's look at the figures you have put in the submission, especially the figures where you are quoting the costs. You dispute AEMO's assessment of $16,000 in relation to the small modular reactors. You agree that there are no small modular reactors operating today?

Dr Ho : They are under construction.

Ms STEGGALL: But none is operating. So any calculation is speculative.

Dr Ho : There are calculations and there are calculations, because what I might add is that the $16,000 figure is actually not a detailed EPC cost estimate. The best cost estimate I would point to as to the current small modular reactor is the NuScale reactor, which goes into very, very high detail—I think it's about 14,000 lines of cost items, which is a highly detailed cost estimate—to arrive to a point of $4,350 per kilowatt capacity.

Ms STEGGALL: But that's my point exactly: they're estimates. They're not in operation. And the earliest estimate is 2026 that that may come on, is that correct?

Dr Ho : Yes.

Ms STEGGALL: So they are estimates. You can agree with me on that?

Dr Ho : I can agree with you, but I will—

Dr Harries : It is an estimate for an SMR, but the other ones—

Ms STEGGALL: Yes. You've gone to great lengths to discuss the cost efficiency. It's important that we've got factual information before us. You've pointed out that that was an important element for the inquiry. If I look at the submission you've made you've relied on this EPC report, which is relying on the idea that renewables would need to be factored in at: solar at $117, wind at $93, black coal at $50.90—at a best case scenario—and nuclear at $79.59. Compared to the CSIRO GenCost reports, which identify that wind would be about half of what you're suggesting at $50 to $60 range, solar PV at $45 to $55 range, black coal at $80 to $110 range and nuclear at $250 to $325 range. I have got some questions as to the independence and factual basis of the figures you've put in your report.

Dr Ho : For our cost estimate what we do is that we also incorporate the other auxiliary cost, which is the extra transmission costs, which I indicated earlier, and the amount of the capacity factor of each source, which might not necessarily be reflective of just what the base plate capacity of each individual renewable source is. So this is—

Ms STEGGALL: On that transmission cost, can we understand the assumptions you've relied upon. I understand that the ISP have identified that it would be less than one per cent of the annual transmission distribution investment in the current regulatory cycle. What numbers have you assumed?

Dr Ho : Could I just clarify that question—

Ms STEGGALL: It would appear that you are adding some kind of costs to solar and wind in your cost comparisons in this EPC report. So what costs of transmission are you adding on? What assumptions are you basing your calculations on?

Dr Ho : The transmission cost is based on the current cost of build out of transmission lines and that number is actually coming from the knowledge of Dr Robert Barr.

Ms STEGGALL: Would you be able to provide those calculations to the committee?

Dr Ho : I can provide that on notice.

CHAIR: Sorry to interrupt, Ms Steggall. Dr Harries first—can you explain the situation?

Dr Harries : I was going to defer to Robert Parker.

CHAIR: I'd like to get that on Hansard rather than just going to somebody. That'll be up to the organisation, so if you would like to call someone to—

Dr Harries : I would like to call Robert Parker to come in.

Mr Parker : I will assist with some clarity regarding the database that went into the model.

Ms STEGGALL: This is the EPC modelling?

Mr Parker : Correct. The EPC model operates over a number of stages to create what we call a system levelised cost. It uses, as the demand, the 2017 demand curve for Australia. It takes as the costs—the individual cost elements going into that model to meet that demand—the data from the AEMO model. The AEMO models set out the capital costs—for example of wind and solar, their estimates of batteries, their estimates of pump storage, all those. We made sure that the models were like for like so that we all started with the same cost basis.

Ms STEGGALL: So you've added something on?

Mr Parker : We included the AEMA data into the model as our cost basis for renewables, for coal, for gas and for pumped storage.

Ms STEGGALL: The AEMA says that all transmission costs are currently $6.2 billion per year, amortised at $450 million to $650 million over the asset life and costs. So what number have you added on for transmission?

Mr Parker : We start off in the way the model works with the amalgamation of all the generating types to arrive at a cost—a system cost for generation. Transmission is separate to that. Because the AEMO model does not use what I would call a representative cost for nuclear, we then applied the best estimate we could come up with for existing constructed one-gigawatt type reactors from South Korea; ones which have a track record—not future things; existing things. That's what we put into the model for the basis of comparison. Then, after that calculation of all those generators working to meet the demand, which included what we call 'capacity factors' or 'reduction in capacity factors to meet that demand', we then add a transmission cost which is based on the current estimated transmission cost of our concentrated existing grid—that goes in as the next line item.

Then, when we have all these variable energy systems, such as wind and solar, we make a proportional cost based on that increased amount of generation that needs to go into the grid, which used that original base number amplified to take account of this new, larger—in the case of renewable system—significantly increased grid generating capacity. So it starts off with what we've got at present, and you expand that. For example, if you've got 50 gigawatts of generating capacity in the grid and your model tells you that, under a new renewable scenario, you may need a hundred gigawatts, then you just proportion up that amount of transmission.

Ms STEGGALL: For the sake of expediency for today, I'd like to call on your modelling and the supporting assumption that has been put below it, because I do believe it needs to be tested. I do have serious questions on where its accuracy in terms of how that sits with the ISP—

Mr Parker : Could you just clarify which accuracy concern you've got so we can make sure we address that?

CHAIR: I think we have time for this, so, Ms Steggall—

Ms STEGGALL: Well, I think, for example, you have pretty much doubled what you say the cost of solar or wind would be. I think you've taken, at a best estimate, a third to a quarter of what nuclear is assessed to be, so there are vast differences in assumptions.

Mr Parker : We'll address those.

CHAIR: You'll address those?

Mr Parker : Yes.

CHAIR: Okay—thank you. I just have one follow-up question on those answers. The OECD has certainly done some work on system costs. How does the methodology you have adopted correlate to theirs? Is it similar or is it different?

Mr Parker : Yes. We've compared what we call 'deep decarbonisation scenarios'—when you try to get to 90 or 100 per cent decarbonisation. With the model that we used, the EPC model on the Australian grid, we ended up finding out that renewables were about 2½ times more expensive than nuclear under decarbonisation scenarios. The OECD, with researchers from MIT, did a study into ERCOT—that's the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. They modelled the Texas situation. We didn't know about that at the time, so these two studies were done quite independently, without any former knowledge. We ended up finding that, under the ERCOT system, they came up with a multiplier of about 2.3, so it was very close to in alignment with what we found in the Australian circumstance. We also found, under their circumstance, that they had an overall power capacity of about six times the nuclear scenario. That is, when you allow nuclear into the situation, compared to when you exclude it, you get about a sixfold increase in the actual capacity that's required, and that underpinned why the cost was so much higher.

Mr PITT: I might follow on a little bit there. We're having a fairly technical discussion about capacity factors and nameplate capacity. In relatively simple terms, could you expand on what that might mean? For example, there was a statement earlier that intermittent wind was probably around a 30-odd per cent capacity factor—I think it's about 33 per cent from memory. Generally, what does that mean if you want to achieve its nameplate, on average?

Mr Parker : One can make a ballpark assumption, as you're no doubt aware, of what the capacity factor is of wind or solar or coal. The capacity factor—

Mr PITT: What does the capacity factor mean?

Mr Parker : The capacity factor is, if you like, the calculation one would do. Over one year you would multiply its rated output by 8,760 and you'd divide that by the number of hours that it actually operated for the amount you got out, and the difference is the capacity factor. It's how often it's used through the year, statistically, compared to if it could operate at 100 per cent throughout the year.

Mr PITT: So it's an average production, basically.

Mr Parker : It's an average production. But an average production doesn't tell you a lot. Averages are nice. If you knew that it always operated at a 35 per cent capacity factor, you could do something with that. But the problem is, and this is what the model calculates, that sometimes wind may be putting out five per cent, sometimes it might be putting out 95 per cent, and it'll put out numbers throughout the entire spectrum. So, when you operate the model, you have to then adjust your gas backup to track that—everything from five to 95, and back to 60, and up and down. That has an impact on the gas that's backing it up, because its capacity factor is reflected by the capacity factor of the wind or the solar that it's trying to meet. So you get this interplay between variable capacity factors, each trying to back up the other. That is the big cost driver, therefore, in the model; it is what the cost is as all of these different energy sources try to support each other. That's how we arrive at our total cost.

Mr PITT: I will try to make this as clear as I can. If you wanted to average 100 megawatts from wind, for example, at a 33 per cent capacity factor, you'd need to install 300 megawatts to get that as an average, and there'd also be times when you would have no production at all because there'd be no wind, so you would have to install another 100 megawatts of capacity from some of the fuel source at the same time. Hence, the cost would increase.

Mr Parker : If you had 300 of wind, you'd really need 300 of gas sitting there, because there will be some times when you're going to need to call up the 300 of gas.

Mr PITT: Or you could do what South Australia's currently doing and cap how much is being put into the network at times of oversupply.

Mr Parker : Yes. In that case, you can bring it in from Victoria and back up that way.

Mr PITT: Yes. So solar's capacity factor is in the low 20s for Australia—22 per cent?

Mr Parker : Yes.

Mr PITT: So, in terms of capacity installed, it would be five times as much.

Mr Parker : Yes.

Dr GILLESPIE: You were talking about the levelised system cost. That means you would have to build new grids to connect in all these new wind farms and all these new solar farms that go for hundreds of square miles. Is that part of your system cost?

Mr Parker : Yes. The first number we arrive at as a system cost is what the generator is offering. Then, in our model, we add in an extra component for transmission and connection. So you end up with two system costs, if you like. You end up with the first hit, which is just the generators. Then, on top of that, you end up with the second hit, which is all the additional connection and transmission. So it's a double effect.

Ms STEGGALL: I'll just pick up on that, on the transmission costs. At the moment, AEMO's ISP has estimated that between $450 million and $650 million in investment's required, which, over the life of the asset is—

Mr Parker : $450 million?

Ms STEGGALL: to $650 million—which, over the life of the asset, is:

… equivalent to less than 1% of the annual transmission and distribution investment in the current regulatory cycle ($6.2 billion per year) …

Do you dispute that number?

Mr Parker : We are presenting the numbers as we see them because possibly, in the way the AEMO model is working, it's coming out with a different amount of capacity and a different locale than our model is coming out with. Whether I dispute it or not, I haven't gone into the AEMO model in detail. I'm going to the model that we're working on, using the AEMO costs.

Mr PITT: In terms of the economic modelling, does your modelling include the costs for ancillary services, for voltage and frequency control, system strength, for intermittent generators, which we know have difficulty—

Mr Parker : No, not identifiably, singly; no, it doesn't.

Mr PITT: So that's not included at all?

Mr Parker : No.

Ms STEGGALL: If there's one thing we can probably agree on that comes out of this, it's that, as to our future energy needs, there's a real question of needing to be able to provide flexibility in supply—that the demands go up and down.

Mr Parker : Yes, one always needs to be able to adjust to the fluctuation in demand. Currently, in the situation where we're relying excessively on variable renewable energy, we have induced an increased need for extremely excessive amounts of flexibility. In fact, you've layered over another three- or four-fold times the requirements for flexibility, because the variable renewable energy is adding massive demands on flexibility that would not be required if you had constant generators.

Ms STEGGALL: But isn't the difficulty for the future that the model of constant generation, 24/7, regardless of demand, a model of the past, because it's not cost-effective?

Mr Parker : No. I would not agree with that. Our traditional system, with thermal generators, operated up to, shall we call it, the baseload demand in the evening, and it operated very, very effectively, at low cost. Then, for the daily cyclic demand, we had hydro and we had gas and we had other sources of variability to meet that small proportion. But we need to be aware that the baseload demand of the NEM was the best part of 75 per cent of the total production, and that can be met, uniformly, by constantly operating generation. The idea that we need to introduce variability into that baseload zone is more a fashion than a technical reality. It's not something that needs to be introduced.

Ms STEGGALL: But do you agree that we don't actually know what that number is going to be in the future, because at the moment we don't have a national energy policy—

Mr Parker : Which number are you referring to?

Ms STEGGALL: Well, in terms of: what is that baseload or variability that's constantly talked about? Some proponents have come here and said, 'We can get to 100 per cent firmed renewable,' and others have said, 'You'll only get to 10 per cent and after that the system will break down.' So there is clearly a huge chasm between the opinions of various groups that have given evidence.

Mr Parker : I think there's a fairly good sense of what our baseload demand will be. People may choose—for, possibly, fashion statements—not to call it baseload, but the reality is that baseload is that load that goes up to the evening period, and it's got fairly good predictability out for many decades ahead.

Ms STEGGALL: I don't think it's baseload; it's dispatchable power. 'Dispatchable power' is in fact the term I know our minister uses, in terms of what he believes is going to be required. But it's correct that, we actually don't know what that dispatchable power requirement would be in 10 to 15 years time because we also have the situation of firmed renewables and other technologies. So this is all very speculative.

Mr Parker : No, I really don't think we should try to diminish things by using terms like 'speculative', because it's a value-laden term. We've had many decades of operating the grid, understanding the projections of where the baseload amount is. So I think we need to be confident in an understanding of where that baseload level will be in the future and not just say, 'Oh well, it's speculative.'

Ms STEGGALL: So, to support that model, are you saying there should be 70 per cent? Would you affix a number in the future as to what that base-load number should be?

Mr Parker : If we can do a fair bit of work on our economic projections and not wreck our industrial processes and what underpins those, we can be fairly confident that we could project the current base load forward for 10 or 20 years. We also need to take into account issues such as the increasing demand for electric motor vehicles. We also need to take into account the need to rapidly increase electricity to meet the issues of climate change and increased electricity going into industrial processes. These are where there are going to be massive increases in energy, and we need to be able to do a lot to try to predict that base load as we go forward to address climate change.

CHAIR: We'll go to Mr Zimmerman in a moment. I've been happy to let this run, because the question of economic feasibility is critical to this inquiry. On our first day of hearings, we heard from AEMO. The $16,000-per-kilowatt price tag was one of the issues discussed at that hearing, and AEMO have confirmed with the committee that that is not their assumption; it came from CSIRO, and CSIRO got that from one company and are currently refreshing and reviewing that. So hopefully we will get either confirmation of that number or a change of that number before this inquiry has concluded, which would be helpful given that a lot of the debate has been anchored to that number. We heard from AEMO on day one, and we've heard a lot of evidence since, that the more renewables come into the system the higher the capacity required, because you need to firm that up. So I think the debate on a system cost is alive. We've heard considerable evidence from different witnesses about the need to account for firming and integration of the grid et cetera. But as to the business case—unless Mr Zimmerman wants to take us there, in which case we can go there—let's just move now to another area of questioning.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: I might just do it briefly.

CHAIR: You can if you like. Stick with it. All right.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Only briefly. Have you discussed your model with AEMO?

Mr Parker : No.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Is there a reason why you wouldn't seek to engage with them?

Mr Parker : No, there's no reason we wouldn't seek to engage. We'd like to engage with AEMO, compare the models and go through a collaborative process to find out where there are flaws or where there are ways of improving. I think it would be terrific.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Chair, procedurally, can we refer the costings model presented by the Australian Nuclear Association to AEMO and ask them to comment on it, as a question on notice to them?

CHAIR: We can, but we'd probably do that separately. We don't need to do it now, do we?

Mr ZIMMERMAN: No, but it would just be an interesting exercise. I will just follow up one point that you made in relation to base-load power, to use your phraseology. Taking into account those trends that you identified—for example, the uptake of electric vehicles—would it be your assumption that the base-load requirements of Australia will increase rather than decrease, even with energy efficiency measures that are currently in train?

Mr Parker : If we are going to be serious—and I've prepared a sketch here that may help focus. Do you mind if I distribute this sketch to the panel?

CHAIR: Yes, that's okay.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Just to save time later and make sure it's not forgotten, I move that this be admitted as an exhibit to the inquiry.

CHAIR: So moved. All in favour?

Ms STEGGALL: I just have a question: could I just understand the source of it?

CHAIR: Sorry, before we go there—Ms Steggall, are you responding to Mr Zimmerman's motion?

Ms STEGGALL: If it's going to be evidence, I want to understand the source of the information and the data on it.

CHAIR: Before we decide if we accept it as—

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Whether we accept it—

Ms STEGGALL: Are we accepting it as being truth with the facts on it?

Mr ZIMMERMAN: No, we're accepting it as an exhibit.

CHAIR: We're accepting it as an exhibit.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: We're not making a value judgement about the accuracy of it except as it being an exhibit.

CHAIR: Exactly. So are you against that motion?

Ms STEGGALL: No, that's fine.

CHAIR: All right. That's carried.

Mr Parker : The pie charts shown here—

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Do you want to just address Ms Steggall's question about the source of—

Mr Parker : Yes, that's what I'm doing. The source of the data on this pie chart, which shows Australia's carbon emission sources throughout the Australian economy, uses the data prepared and produced annually and upgraded quarterly by the Australian government. That is the source of the data. What I would like to highlight, and the reason I've put this, is that in Australia we tend to forget that the IPCC guidelines have us decarbonising by about 2050 economy-wide, not just energy-wide. The green bits are where we can't even get over the first hurdle of electricity generation before we move into other areas. Mr Zimmerman asked me about what the impact of things like electric motor vehicles could be.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Just to be quite clear, my question was: is it your expectation that our base-load energy requirements will increase?

Mr Parker : Yes, it is. To quantify that: in red writing, off to the side of the green zone, we have 190 terawatt hours in 2018. That was about the amount of generation that was put out in the NEM—190 terawatts. If we go over to light vehicles and buses, this is my calculation: if you took the number of kilometres that are done—and this is data given to us by the ABS—and electrified 80 per cent of those, you would find, for example, that by about 2050 you'd need about nine gigawatts of nuclear power plant or 76 terawatt hours of generation to go in there. That's the type of increase one would need. If we were to try to increase our amount of electricity going into our stationary energy, which is fossil fuels, we'd need about another 122 terawatt hours. These are massive increases if we are fair dinkum about addressing climate change. That is hopefully a quantified response to your question.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Thank you. I appreciate that. In relation to the capacity issues that you mention—for example, wind having 33 per cent capacity, and I obviously accept that that's an average with considerable variability in between—what does storage capacity do to the capacity of those renewable energy sources? For example, presumably if you've got wind attached to storage, be it hydro or battery, then that has the potential to even out the variability and potentially increase the capacity. Is that a correct assumption?

Mr Parker : Correct, yes.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: When assessing long-range options—for example, nuclear has a 10-year horizon, at minimum—how do policymakers effectively assess the economic competitiveness of nuclear in an environment where there is such rapid technological development, say, in relation to storage options?

Mr Parker : The storage option we primarily relied on in our modelling was the use of pumped hydro and, in fact, we used Snowy 2.0 as our main model, because that will be a fantastic project if it ever gets off the ground. So that's what we used.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: It will. It's a core commitment.

Mr Parker : If it goes ahead, that'd be great. That gives us a very good base. The next stage that our model actually used was the energy for the nation, which was a Tasmanian idea of linking a—

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Battery of the Nation.

Mr Parker : Sorry, Battery of the Nation. So we've got that in as the second level. To put this in some perspective, my background is actually in large dam construction. Snowy 2.0 is variously reported as providing storage of between $18,000 to $28,000 per megawatt hour of storage. A greenfield site for pumped hydro is working out at about $250,000 to $300,000 per megawatt hour. It's a massive difference. To come to your question, that's why, with these changes in storage technology, I don't think there'll be a lot of movement around pumped storage. It's basic dirt shifting, concrete—

Mr ZIMMERMAN: It's a known technology.

Mr Parker : They're very known technologies—Noah built them when he needed a lagoon for the ark, so they've been around for a while! When you go to batteries, that technology is coming down rapidly. You would need to be cognisant all the time of how you projected that into your models. At present we use the AEMO data, but it may well change in the future in different model runs in a collaborative process.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: I come back to my question. In terms of long-term planning and investment, say, in nuclear power, how do you make a judgement that in 10 or 20 years time your figures would still stack up in light of changes to technology in other areas—for example, battery storage?

Mr Parker : Battery storage will come down, but we are also seeing the tremendous potential for nuclear energy costs to come down if people are prepared to invest. We have things like the NuScale plant, and it's running at roughly a comparable number to the North Asian nuclear power plants in terms of cost. We have the BWRX-300. That's coming in, they hope, at about half that type of price. When people are promoting different technologies, we've got to be even-handed in people talking up technologies. Yes, we get a lot of people talking up batteries, a lot of people talking up PV and a lot of people talking up nuclear with high hopes for its cost reduction into the future. We've got to take an even-handed approach, I guess, to boosterism.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: Yes, I understand. The question I was going to ask before I got caught in Ms Steggall's line of inquiry—which I think was worthwhile—was to Dr Ho, and it's a broader question. If you had a magic wand, where would you see the nuclear energy industry in Australia in 20 years time? Do you believe that, effectively, we should be looking at replacing the coal-fired generator fleet with nuclear in its entirety as they retire?

Dr Ho : Our guiding star, if I can call it that, is to satisfy the nation's requirements for reliability, cleanliness and affordability. The affordability aspect is really dependent on an optimal share of your energy mix. It's not necessarily that one particular technology will win out against the other. I would really like to take the discussion away from pitting one type of technology against the other. We know from, say, studies done in MIT that a small amount—up to about 20 per cent—of renewable energy does make sense because it satisfies the peak demand during the day and then you have some kind of base load thermal source to satisfy the base-load portion. So, in a roundabout way, I guess I'm answering that, yes, of course I would love to see a larger amount of dispatchable nuclear power being able to satisfy that base-load nuclear component, and I think that if we look towards new nuclear technology, which is very different from nuclear technology 20 years ago, we can have a system that is low cost, safe and reliable. I would be happy with, say, 50 per cent of our current demand being satisfied with nuclear power plants.

Ms STEGGALL: Following on from that, would you require that to be a government priority purchase agreement or subsidised by government to ensure that capacity?

Dr Ho : No. I think there are lots of options. For example, in the UK, there are contract-for-differences. There are different financial structures you can put in. But the fact of the matter is that the promise of small module reactors is lower construction times, which is a big feature. As I reiterate, large nuclear power plants might take eight years to build; smaller nuclear power plants may take three years—

Ms STEGGALL: But you don't know that. You have to be careful making that statement. At the moment the best estimate is 2026 on the first one.

Dr Ho : Sure, but that is only because at the moment—let's use NuScale because they have the most data out in the market; they are currently going through detailed design certification with the NRC. That's slated for completion at the end of 2020. Of course, it's not just construction of the module; it's really the whole project life cycle—about five years—to build the project from start to finish, but the construction of the vessel itself is three years.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: My last question actually flows on in some ways from Ms Steggall's question just then. Beyond the prohibition, which is obviously a starting point if nuclear was to be put on the table, what do you actually see as the role of the Australian government, and how would you see nuclear working in the marketplace? The Australian government generally doesn't commission power plants. Snowy Hydro is probably the one and only exception in recent times. What do you see the role of the Australian government as being?

Dr Ho : There is a role for the Australian government definitely, because obviously all nuclear activities and nuclear facilities et cetera are governed through regulation. The regulator ARPANSA does an extremely good job of that.

Mr ZIMMERMAN: It's a regulator of safe waste disposal and so on, but what about in relation to the commissioning of nuclear power? Do you see that as a state or federal responsibility, or a private sector responsibility?

Dr Ho : I would like to see the federal government have a leading role in this, because you have to understand as well, as we know, the hurdle to introduce nuclear power in Australia is really due to the lack of understanding currently in the population, despite its somewhat growing popularity. So the government does need to take a leadership role in coordinating all the different kinds of activities required and different stakeholders—the public, the regulator and, say, legal and things like insurance. So I do see that, whichever way this pans out, the government will have a very large role—yes—maybe with the department of industry.

Mr PITT: To come back to the pie chart on Australia's carbon emission sources and energy and transport at 17 per cent, we know there's been advances in terms of hydrogen fuel and we know the CSIRO has developed membrane technology to be able to take hydrogen from ammonia and utilise existing infrastructure and logistics. Is there any advantage for this country in terms of hydrogen production around nuclear energy or nuclear technology?

Mr Parker : Yes. Specifically hydrogen can be made by reforming methane, but that really is not a low carbon source of hydrogen. Better sources of hydrogen will come using nuclear technology. Initially you can use electrolytic splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using a lot of electricity, and that's what they're looking at doing in the United States right now. Possibly the bigger question, over the debate on transport fuels, is whether we're going to have a hydrogen future, whether we're going to have a battery future or whether we're going to have an ammonia future. The ammonia is nice; it's liquid. Hydrogen is a devil of a material to handle, and it's got a really low energy intensity in terms of its volume, so it's a problematic material. Various documents that I've been reading point the way more towards liquid fuels and/or battery as a possibility. But, whichever route you go down, it's a conversion using electricity. These are only carriers. Hydrogen isn't a fuel; it's a carrier. It's an energy carrier. Batteries are energy carriers. The energy has got to be provided by electricity, and nuclear power is the type of thing that's got the grunt to provide something like 76-terawatt hours in 2050 if we're going to use an electrified transport system, be it hydrogen or battery.

Dr GILLESPIE: Thanks, everyone, for your presentations. This is to all of you, but particularly to ANA because you seem to have done most of the modelling. With the system levelised cost of energy, no-one appears to have taken into the costings—or have I missed it—the requirement that a battery has maybe a 20-year life or a 15-year life and that the dynamos in wind towers have a fixed life of maybe 20 years. Have you factored in replacing all these batteries, recycling all these batteries and changing all these turbines every 15 to 20 years over—

Mr Parker : Yes, that goes into our model. In terms of the capital cost depletion over the life of these devices, that goes into our model as an LCOE calculation for each one of them. That takes into account the depletion of the capital over the life span of the device.

Mr Parker : Yes, that goes into our model. In terms of the capital cost depletion over the life of these devices, that goes in our model as an LCOE calculation for each one of them. That takes into account the depletion of the capital over the life span of the device.

Dr GILLESPIE: Does it include the replacement cost, not the depreciation of the capital. If you've got to go through this every 20 years, it makes it even more uneconomical.

Mr Parker : No. The model takes into account, for example, a nuclear plant will operate for, maybe up to 80 years, definitely 60 years. You've got that capital, that depreciation and that financing, and that arrives at a capital value and a funding cost. It's the same for the renewables or the batteries. We use the same sort of model. It actually does sort itself out within the model by virtue of taking up the appropriate life span for that. Then, when you re-run the model at the end of, say, five years, for the sections of the PV farming, for example the inverters, that's all automatically taken up within the capital consumption in the model.

CHAIR: Given we're nearly running out of time, I'm going to bring in Women in Nuclear Australian and give ANA a bit of a breather for a few minutes.

Ms STEGGALL: Before we do, as a question on notice can I just ask for one of the documents that was referred to?

CHAIR: Sure. Which document?

Ms STEGGALL: Can we get those calculations and assumption that you've referred to as to future needs of energy, because they do go against the Energy Security Board's announcements and predictions.

CHAIR: Ms Ameglio, on page 6 of your submission you wrote about the environmental impacts of different energy sources. I've been surprised at how few witnesses have spoken about the environmental benefits or otherwise of different energy sources. Could you elaborate on how those different energy sources compare?

Ms Ameglio : Certainly. Thank you for that question. As you can see in the table on page 6, we've referred to work done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has compared the carbon dioxide emissions of various energy sources as CO2 grams per kilowatt hour energy. From that you can see, not surprisingly, that coal is the highest emitter of CO2 over the lifetime of its emissions. Nuclear is among the lowest, together with wind power generation. I think, besides the CO2 emissions of the various energy sources, it's also important to bear in mind the other environmental impacts of these energy sources. As previously referred to by some of the speakers, nuclear energy requires much less land use than other forms of low-emission electricity generation, such as solar and wind farms, and, compared to fossil fuels, requires less fuel, mining transportation and material consumption.

The other benefit of nuclear energy is that it manages 100 per cent of its waste, which, as we've spoken about previously, can be efficiently stored. What we've also considered is that nuclear waste, particularly waste from nuclear fuel, can be recycled and re-used in the newer generation nuclear reactors.

Another aspect of environmental impacts commonly considered is the impact of water usage. Nuclear energy does require cooling, using large amounts of water, but this water is returned to the environment and is never exposed to radioactive material, so we're not generating additional waste.

From a mining perspective, of course, the discussion about renewable sources of energy has triggered a number of studies, including one, which we quote, by Vidal and others in Nature Geoscience which indicates:

… solar and wind facilities require up to 15 times more concrete, 90 times more aluminium, and 50 times more iron, copper and glass than fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

So the environmental consequences from mining for nuclear energy are substantially less than other energy forms.

CHAIR: You also mentioned that the major impacts from the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents were not caused by radiation exposure but due to psychological socio-economic factors. That hasn't come up in the evidence of people who have come before us in these hearings. Can you elaborate on that, and what is the source of evidence to suggest that?

Ms Ameglio : I do not have the data for that reference, but I can provide it to you on notice. What I would like to say is that one of the myths commonly held in the general public is that there are a number of deaths associated with these major nuclear events, such as Fukushima and Chernobyl, and a lot of devastation due to nuclear components and radioactivity. What we do know is that in Fukushima the radioactivity is contained within the actual power plant itself. With Chernobyl, over the years the radioactivity levels of the surrounding area have died down and people are actually returning. The big economic impacts were due to the fact that people had actually moved away from the area with a misunderstanding of what the impacts or extent of radioactivity were.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Dr GILLESPIE: A question of interest: are you aware that you can now do tours of the Chernobyl plant, inside the control room that features in the Chernobyl miniseries, and that it is deemed safe?

Ms Ameglio : Yes, we are aware of that. There are a number of scientists currently working in the area immediately around Chernobyl, understanding the effects of repopulation in the area.

CHAIR: For the sake of disclosure, you're not on any commission selling tickets for—

Dr GILLESPIE: I'm not on any commission! I haven't been to Chernobyl yet, but I'll get there.

Ms STEGGALL: To Women in Nuclear: at page 13 of your submission, you've referred to an Essential poll of June 2019. One of the major factors we have to consider as a precondition to lifting the moratorium is public acceptance and community feeling about it. Unfortunately it was never mentioned at the election, so we have no assessment of that. Could you provide us with that Essential poll of June 2019? I've looked for it online but haven't found it.

Ms Ameglio : We will do so.

Ms STEGGALL: Thank you.

CHAIR: And another question for your response on notice would be the source of evidence relating to the impacts from Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Ms Ameglio : We will do so.

CHAIR: To all of you: thank you for your attendance here today. If you have been asked to provide any additional information, could you please forward it on to the secretariat. The committee may have additional questions for you, and if we do require your response on notice we will send you those questions via the secretariat. You will be sent a copy of the transcript of your evidence, and will have an opportunity to request corrections to transcription errors.

Proceedings suspended from 10:29 to 10:46