Climate change minister says nuclear is too slow and expensive

By Anna Macdonald

June 21, 2022

Chris Bowen
Minister for climate change and energy Chris Bowen. (AAP Image/Steven Saphore)

Climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen has positioned good energy policy as good economic policy during his first ministerial speech.

At the Investor Group on Climate Change Investment and Finance Summit, Bowen also called nuclear energy the slowest and most expensive form of alternative energy.

“Its adoption in Australia would push up power prices and crowd out cheaper and cleaner technologies,” Bowen said.

“Firmed renewables are quicker to build and cheaper to operate. Those who say otherwise are either dangerously ignorant or simply seeking to perpetuate the climate wars.” 

Bowen’s comments come after Nationals leader David Littleproud said he wrote to prime minister Anthony Albanese about considering nuclear power in Australia. 

“Can we make it safe, affordable and reliable in Australia? We need to have this conversation and if opportunities exist – back ourselves,” Littleproud tweeted earlier this month.

Bowen also mentioned the Integrated System Plan, which had been raised at a meeting with energy ministers from Labor, Liberal and the Greens. 

“We have a world-class Integrated System Plan for the transformation of the electricity grid,” he said.

“But now we need to build on it to encompass all elements of the energy transition, like hydrogen.”

Bowen’s speech comes at a time of uncertainty for Australia’s energy supply, with the Australian Energy Market Operator cautioning power shortfalls during the past fortnight. 

The freshly minted minister also called Australia’s dependence on coal as putting Australia “behind on the energy transformation”. 

“A decade of denial and delay has left us dangerously exposed to these challenges,” the minister said.

He also mentioned the opportunities for energy in this country, including solar and wind power. 

“Australia has wasted a decade,” he said. “There is no more time to waste – not a minute of it. I can’t wait. I know you can’t either.”

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