The prospects for nuclear power generation in Australia.

Gilpin, Alan, 1924- (1974). The prospects for nuclear power generation in Australia. PhD Thesis, School of Economics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Gilpin, Alan, 1924-
Thesis Title The prospects for nuclear power generation in Australia.
School, Centre or Institute School of Economics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1974
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 399
Language eng
Subjects 14 Economics
Formatted abstract In exploring the prospects for the nuclear generation of electricity supplies in Australia, the order of discussion is as follows: in Part I the writer outlines and identifies the principal economic and technical characteristics of electricity supply systems in general and nuclear power plant in particular; Part II is an empirical study of the individual Australian public electricity supply systems, to determine those characteristics relevant to the problem; while Part III applies the findings of the previous Parts, embodies essential calculations and predictions, discusses the process of decision-making and reaches a firm general conclusion. The writer then proceeds to a summing-up and concludes with a glossary of terms and bibliography.

The principal findings are: (l) An electricity supply system is an arrangement of transmission and distribution lines linking power generating sources and load centres, forming a grid which normally covers a wide area, operating under central management and control: (2) The cost of supplying a unit of electricity (kWh) to any point is a function of site, fuel, labour and capacity costs; the size and thermal efficiency of generating sets and power stations; the size of the system as a whole having regard to aggregate generating capacity, capacity of transmission and distribution lines, geography and reserve capacity; the pattern of demand together with resultant plant and system load factors; and social benefits and social costs: (3) The short-run marginal fuel cost of individual generating sets is horizontal over normal loads: (4) As systems tend to include plant of a variety of ages and efficiencies, and plant is brought on load in accordance with an "order-of-merit", the short-run marginal costs within system capacity increase with increasing output: (5) Technological developments have ensured a declining long-run marginal cost curve: (6) Systems are centrally operated in such a way as to minimise the fuel costs of meeting the consumption of electricity whatever the time pattern of demand happens to be: (7) Pricing policies influence both growth in demand and the incidence of demand, particularly between peak and off-peak periods: (8) The pattern of demand as expressed in the system load factor is an important factor influencing the prospects of employing high capacity cost/low energy cost generating plant, such as nuclear power plant: (9) New plant is added to a system to meet actual or prospective demand which will maximise the present worth of net benefits: (10) As the social benefits or costs of any officially approved new plant are likely to be roughly similar, the maximisation of the present worth of net benefits is obtained through the minimisation of the total system costs in the selection of new plant: (11) For two or more alternative plants which will render equal service both in terms of aggregate output in a prescribed time period and in the pattern or timing of that supply, the system savings (or costs) will be identical and the problem becomes one of comparing the present worths of direct costs (direct in the sense that they are immediately associated with or "internal" to a plant and here imply both capacity and energy costs): (12) The ability of a system to employ nuclear power plant to economic advantage is a function of system size in terms of aggregate generating capacity and system load factor, as well as a function of plant capacity and energy costs per se: (13) There are no unique social benefits or social costs likely to arise in a limited use of nuclear power generation, either in terms of benefits to Australian industry generally or costs associated with the hazards of nuclear radiation: (14) A penalty must be imposed on the calculated costs of nuclear power generation to take account of the uncertainty arising from the world's lack of experience of the technical life span of nuclear plant generally and its likely flexibility (or inflexibility) in a mid-load role with marked swings in output: (15) It cannot be assumed ex ante that nuclear power plant will enjoy higher lifetime plant load factors than comparable conventional plant: (16) The prospects for nuclear power are gloomy; only New South Wales and Victoria have systems large enough to accept nuclear generating sets of minimum commercial size; the other State systems will not be large enough until the 1990s; the Jervis Bay proposal is revealed as inordinately costly; nuclear power plant is unlikely to become competitive with alternative coal-fired plant before the mid- 1980s and then only in power station sizes of 1,000 MW and above; Australia should avoid a commitment to nuclear power generation for at least 10 to 15 years, there being no case for a subsidised programme; towards the end of that period more advanced types of nuclear reactor may have become available.

Keyword Nuclear industry -- Australia.

 
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