Australia joins fourth generation reactor forum

Nuclear energy in Australia

Australia has become the 14th member of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), an international collective of governments that promotes nuclear as vital for future energy networks.

Australia now joins countries committed to the joint development of next generation nuclear technology: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US, along with the European Union.

Most of these are party to the 2005 Framework Agreement, which formally commits them to participate in the development of one or more ‘Generation IV’ systems selected by GIF for further research and development.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said membership is affirmation of Australia’s international credentials in high-tech science and innovation

“Australia has firm non-proliferation goals and nuclear safety objectives, and contributing to the global conversation on this level is an opportunity to assist in the research that is making nuclear technologies safer around the world in the long term, ” she said.

GIF research is focused on six reactor designs that will deliver safe, secure, sustainable, competitive and versatile nuclear technology. The forum expects some of these reactor designs could be demonstrated and commercially rolled out in around 2030-2040, and current members are already developing and constructing prototype technologies.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said Australia’s invitation to join the global project marks an opportunity to be at the forefront of global innovation.

“Inclusion in the GIF further strengthens Australia’s position as a nation that has the research muscle to deliver innovations on the global stage. It reinforces the governments $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, encouraging our best and brightest researchers to collaborate with international experts,” he said.

“Australia has firm non-proliferation goals and nuclear safety objectives, and contributing to the global conversation on this level is an opportunity to assist in the research that is making nuclear technologies safer around the world in the long term,” Ms Bishop added.

Australia produces about 80 per cent of electricity from coal-fired plants, 12 per cent from gas and 7 per cent from hydro. This gives it a high output of carbon dioxide, which is the main reason for consideration of possible nuclear generation in the future.