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Energy Minister Chris Bowen says that despite the Coalition’s previous “inappropriate” attacks on the CSIRO, the scientific body has found that renewables are cheaper than nuclear.

The final report from the government’s main scientific research arm and Australia’s energy market regulator, AEMO, found that a nuclear plant could not be operational before 2040 and would cost $16 billion, meaning the technology could not be used to help meet Australia’s international climate change commitment, which requires it to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030.

Charging

Speaking on ABC Radio National, Bowen criticized the Coalition’s pledge to build seven nuclear reactors in Australia if elected, saying it was not the right approach.

“Despite opposition claims, quite inappropriate attacks by the opposition on CSIRO and AEMO, that they had not counted the cost of transmission. You count the cost of transmission and storage and still renewables turn out to be the cheapest,” Bowen said.

“The CSIRO points out that the construction of nuclear energy will take a long time and will be very slow. “Nuclear power is therefore slow and expensive, and is risky when it comes to the reliability of Australia’s energy system.”

Speaking later on National Radio, Coalition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham defended his party’s commitment to nuclear energy, but did not say whether he thought the CSIRO was wrong.

“We have not been able to review (the report) in any type of detail. So it will take a little bit of time to review the findings, but I think the author has been clear that this is a report not about the end consumer point and how it relates to energy customers,” he said.

“We will work on our policy taking this into account, but also looking at the international evidence from the International Energy Agency, the OECD and others, which is quite clear about the role of nuclear energy and achieving net zero emissions, and do so while maintaining stability and low cost in its energy network.”