A recent European study found that if the Netherlands were to convert their electricity to wind and solar they would need to blanket an area nearly two times the size of their country. Using the same calculations for Australia we would see an area double the size of our irrigated farming land taken up with wind and solar farms.
To generate the same amount of electricity, we would need to build nuclear power stations that would only cover 60 square kilometres. In other words, we could power the whole of Australia with nuclear plants that would take up just 10 per cent of Rockhampton's land area.
This is because wind energy requires at least 250 times more land than nuclear and solar requires 150 times more land.
Too much renewable energy is not good for the environment. Environmentalists in times past would work to protect the landscape, now they champion modern capitalists who wantonly blanket a countryside with skyscraper sized turbines and entire paddocks of mirrors.
Renewable energy has its place but it is not without its environmental impact, and there can be such a thing as too much of a good thing.
That is why if we are serious about reducing emissions we should have a serious discussion about nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants exist in 30 countries around the world, and France gets about three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear. Australia is actually an outlier in the developed world for not having any nuclear energy.
Part of the reason for that is because we had adequate electricity supplies of coal and hydroelectricity (from Snowy) when nuclear power became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. And, the second half of the story is that by the 1980s the western world became scared of nuclear energy after accidents like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
While these accidents were terrible the known death toll from nuclear is just over 100 people. In comparison, over 4 million people are killed by air pollution every year.
Nuclear energy is relatively safe for the same reason it takes up less land. Michael Shellenberger, in his recent book *Apocalypse Now*, calculates that a single coke can of uranium can provide enough energy for your whole life. With less energy matter there is just less of it to escape into the environment.
Nuclear is also cheaper than renewables. Between 1965 and 2018 the world spent $2 trillion on nuclear compared to $2.3 trillion for solar and wind. By the end of it nuclear produced around double the electricity than solar and wind.
In even better news, new nuclear technologies promise to be safer and cheaper again. Small modular reactors can build nuclear power stations at a smaller level, allowing them to better integrate within Australia's smaller population. And mass production could bring their costs down significantly.
This is why last week I and other Nationals Senators moved amendments to an energy law that would allow for government to finance investment in nuclear technologies. There is a long way to go before we would build a new nuclear power station but we should get ready in case future Australians want to do that.
We will never reach net zero carbon emissions on renewable energy alone. Unless you’re willing to consider nuclear energy you are not serious about tackling climate change.