Read the article written by our CEO Cristina Talacko in the Daily Telegraph and the Canberra Times on why a balanced and forward-thinking plan to reduce emissions involves acknowledging the role of nuclear energy as a guardian of our nation's power security:

IN THE vast expanse of Australia, our energy landscape stands at a crossroads, and the decisions we make today will echo through the years to come. Trapped in the shallowness of media narratives and the myopia of short-term political planning, we find our- selves treading on precarious ground when it comes to shaping our energy systems.

Our institutions, epitomised by the esteemed CSIRO, and AEMO, play a pivotal role in guiding our energy policies. However, a critical examination reveals a gap in foresight. My assessment of their assumptions on the cost of advanced nuclear technologies in the GenCost is that it is made without due consideration for potential blackouts, the increasing costs of critical minerals, and rare earth minerals essential for renewables. As the demand for these minerals skyrockets, so does the economic burden on our nation.

While I wholeheartedly support renewable energy, I find myself questioning the sustainability of a system that relies entirely on a single technology. Let's talk about those big renewable projects: sadly, many of them are running into issues with social approval.

Firstly, the significant footprint of these projects on land often becomes a point of contention. The development of large renewable installations requires substantial land areas, leading to concerns about the impact on local ecosystems, wildlife habitats, and overall land use. This becomes a critical issue, especially in regions where the land is valued for agricultural purposes or is closely connected to the livelihoods of local communities. Secondly, the concerns raised by regional communities and farmers play a pivotal role, who worry about the potential disruptions caused by large-scale renewable projects, ranging from altered landscapes to changes in water usage or other environmental considerations.

Then we face the issue of dependence on China as the primary supplier of most renewables, coupled with the lack of prospects for Australia to take a pioneering role in manufacturing and establishing its industry. This presents a challenge for our nation to assert control over its energy future and foster a sustainable, self-reliant energy sector.

Another point is that GenCost and the debate on energy choices often neglect the durability and longevity of power generation technologies. Advanced nuclear reactors boast a lifespan of 60 to 80 years, significantly outlasting the 15-year life cycle of wind turbines and solar panels. This longevity translates not only into sustained energy production but also substantial cost savings over time. While upfront costs may paint nuclear as a costly option, a comprehensive analysis, including long-term durability, reveals its potential to be a prudent investment.

But in my view, the most pressing issue is that Australia is an island continent with a unique set of challenges. While wind and solar, coupled with batteries, have their merits, the inherent risks of relying solely on these technologies cannot be ignored. The intermittent nature of wind and solar power, combined with the limited storage capacity of batteries, leaves our energy grid vulnerable. In a country where self-sufficiency is paramount, we must acknowledge that a single day's worth of stored energy may fall woefully short in times of need. The International Energy Agency recently released a report addressing the impacts of Seasonal Variability in Renewable Power Generation Sources. This study holds particular significance in understanding the role of nuclear power systems. Consider the analogy of policy insurance: the ability to ensure a steady and enduring power supply, irrespective of weather conditions or intermittent renewable outputs, is a safeguard against the unforeseen. This resilience affords us the luxury of planning for the long term, unburdened by the spectre of blackouts or energy shortages.

This position is fully endorsed by the UAE. This month, I led a group of Australian MPs to COP28, and part of our itinerary included a visit to the Barakah nuclear power plant. This first-hand experience shed light on why they decided to include nuclear energy in their mix despite having abundant sun and wind resources. When I quizzed the Chief Operating Officer about this decision, he explained that nuclear acts as their insurance policy, guaranteeing a clean and constant energy supply, especially on days when the sun isn't shining, or the wind isn't blowing. The Barakah plant alone is set to cover 25 per cent of the UAE's energy needs.

Delving into the financial side of things which seems so contentious in Australia, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) shared insights into the impressive returns stemming from the $20 billion vested in the Barakah project. Beyond merely producing energy, the venture has generated substantial financial gains and diverse commercial advantages. For example, the UAE companies have secured contracts totalling $6.7 billion, with a focus on providing green steel and green aluminium. They also make a remarkable saving of about $1 billion in gas bills directly attributed to the nuclear energy initiative. These economic benefits go beyond mere financial gains, translating into the creation of numerous job opportunities within the expanding nuclear energy sector.

They explained that the upfront investment in nuclear power should be seen not as an expenditure but as a commitment to long-term stability and security. Nuclear emerges as a pragmatic and fiscally responsible choice when weighed against the potential costs of blackouts, supply chain vulnerabilities, and the periodic replacement of short-lived renewables.

Australia's energy future demands a departure from the shallowness of current debates. Embracing a balanced and forward-thinking approach involves acknowledging the role of nuclear energy as a guardian of our nation's power security. As we grapple with the complexities of energy policy, let us transcend the limitations of short-sightedness and embrace a vision that empowers Australia to navigate the future with resilience, foresight, and sustained energy independence.