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Turnbull Says No to Nuclear Energy, Pushes Solar, Wind, Hydro Energy

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Mr. Turnbull said nuclear power plants were not the right fit for Australia’s energy mix. Mr. Turnbull owns a hydro company in New South Wales.

Former Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull has opposed nuclear energy, promoting solar, wind, and hydro energy instead.

Mr. Turnbull, who served as the 29th prime minister of Australia from 2015 to 2018, said even if nuclear plants were not “hugely expensive” and take “decades to build,” they were “not the right fit for Australia’s energy mix.”

“Regarding nuclear: our big advantage is solar and wind. Especially solar, which is cheap and getting cheaper and easier to install,” he said on X.

“However, that means we need to store excess electricity when it is in abundance and use it when it is not—hence batteries and pumped hydro.”

He said flexible and dispatchable generation is needed to complement renewables, which you can turn on and off.

“Nuclear plants do none of that. They run continuously. Cannot be turned on and off at the flick of a switch,” Mr. Turnbull continued.

The former politician also criticised the Coalition’s reference to nuclear-powered subs to justify the move to nuclear energy.

“The reference to nuclear-powered subs is fatuous. The submarines to be acquired under AUKUS will use weapons-grade uranium in sealed reactors which deliberately cannot be maintained in Australia—[former Prime Minister Scott] Morrison cited this as a positive,” Mr. Turnbull said.

The Labor Party opposes nuclear energy and aims to achieve net zero with 100 percent renewable energy supported by gas.

In contrast, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton proposes building seven nuclear reactors in Australia if he wins the next election.

Speaking to the Liberal National Party state convention in Brisbane on the weekend, Mr. Dutton said Australia would join the other 19 top economies in using zero-emission nuclear technology.

“A choice between Labor’s reckless renewables-only policy that will see the energy bills of Australians soar even more than what people have already experienced, or the Coalition’s plan for cheaper, cleaner and consistent energy, which includes Australia becoming a nuclear-powered nation,” he said. 

“A visionary policy unlike any put forward by a political party this century.”

The Coalition argues that no country in the world relies entirely on solar and wind, but 32 operate zero-emissions nuclear plants and 50 are considering it.

However, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen reiterated that nuclear power does not “stack up” and that it is not a path he supports for Australia.

“Australia with our renewable resources would be crazy to go down—it would be a massive act of economic self-harm to go down the path of instituting the most expensive form of energy when we can capture the cheapest form of energy with our world-class, world-beating renewable resources,” Mr. Bowen said on June 24.

The Labor Party aims for net zero by 2050 and to reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030. The Coalition argues that the 2030 target is unachievable but supports the goal of net zero by 2050.

The Epoch Times has contacted Mr. Dutton’s office for comment.

Turnbull Exploring Hydrogen Power

In February, Mr. Turnbull’s renewable energy company, Upper Hunter Hydro, won a competitive tender to explore hydrogen power storage in New South Wales (NSW).

Hydropower uses the energy of moving water to generate electricity. A pumped hydro scheme pumps water from a lower reservoir to a higher one to store energy when plenty of power is available and then pumps it back down when needed.

The company was founded by Mr. Turnbull and hydro engineer Roger Gill. Mr. Turnbull, his wife Lucy, and Mr. Gill are among the company’s directors.

Mr. Turnbull founded Upper Hunter Hydro to deliver the “deep energy storage essential for a net-zero carbon world.”

“Wind and solar are both intermittent sources of generation and once coal-fired generation is phased out, we will be left with abundant, and much cheaper, variable generation but no continuous, baseload generation. That’s why long-duration energy storage in the form of pumped hydro is critical to ensuring energy is affordable and reliable,” he said in February.

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