The AUA wished to put the current state of development of uranium-fuelled nuclear energy technology in perspective with the current state of development of other electricity generation technologies.
The AUA asked Professor Manfred Lenzen of the University of Sydney's Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis to provide a detailed update on the state of nuclear electricity generation technology and that of other renewable and non-renewable generation technologies.
Professor Lenzen’s analysis of the scientific literature shows:
- The generating technologies currently available to provide base-load electricity are either fossil fuel-based or nuclear power or, in some cases, hydro-power
- Nuclear power and power from renewables are the most effective technologies for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions; they have significant mitigation potential and low energy requirements
- The mature technologies are the fossil fuel technologies, nuclear, hydro and wind
- The technologies still in development are coal with carbon capture and storage, geothermal and solar (photovoltaic and solar thermal)
- Wind power requires the least energy input per unit of electricity output, followed closely by large hydro and nuclear, then solar and fossil fuels
- Hydro is the least subsidised technology, followed by nuclear and geothermal, wind, coal, biomass and solar
- The fossil fuel-based technologies cost least, followed by nuclear and wind, then hydro and then solar
- All the technologies face barriers to their development and deployment, which reinforces the need for countries to consider a full portfolio of technologies.