Canberra [Australia], September 18: A proposed plan to replace Australia's retiring coal-fired power stations with small nuclear reactors would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, a government report has found.
According to an analysis published by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) on Monday, a minimum of 71 300-megawatt (MW) small modular reactors (SMRs) would be needed to offset the power generation capacity of Australia's coal-fired stations when they go offline.
Based on data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the DCCEEW report suggested the proposal would cost up to 387 billion Australian dollars (249 billion U.S. dollars) - or 25,000 Australian dollars (16,100 U.S. dollars) per taxpayer.
The plan was proposed by opposition leader Peter Dutton, who said in a speech in July retired coal-fired plants could be converted or repurposed to produce nuclear energy as a "companion" to renewable energy sources.
However, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said in a statement on Monday that the DCCEEW report showed that nuclear power generation was not viable.
Under current laws it is prohibited to build nuclear power stations in every Australian state and territory.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in August ruled out any move to overturn the ban, saying nuclear power does not "stack up" as an economically viable option.