Nuclear energy to serve future demand?

Marcus Tang (Murdoch University), Gareth Jones (University of WA), Peter Klinger, James Ball, Peter Robinson, Rebecca Grennell (Edith Cowan University) and
Joshua Yarham (Curtin University) at the Shell 'Global Energy Forum'.
Photo courtesy of Shell Australia

07 October 2012

James Ball, a final year Commerce/Science student from The University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle Campus, was selected from a state-wide competition to present at a recent forum discussing the world's future energy needs.

The competition, run by energy company Shell Australia, challenged Western Australian university students to submit a report on the question – 'Where nine billion people should get their future energy from?'.

The question resulted from Shell's current research that predicts the world's population will swell to more than nine billion people by 2050; meaning an estimated two-fold increase in energy demand over the next 30 years.

Five winners, one from each of the universities, were chosen to speak at the conference. The winners' topics covered various energy initiatives, such as renewable, wave, hemp and hydrogen. Vice President of Shell Australia, Peter Robinson, hosted the forum which is part of the company's Future of Energy Campaign. The Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, The Hon Chris Evans, was the keynote speaker at the event which was moderated by Business Editor at The West Australian, Peter Klinger.

Mr Ball spoke at the inaugural Shell 'Global Energy Forum' promoting what he considers is a possible solution.

He argued that nuclear power, a carbon-free entity, needed to be considered as a viable energy source if the booming global population wanted to reduce its reliance on traditional fossil fuels.

Supporting his position on what is seen by many around the world as a controversial energy alternative, Mr Ball said nuclear power needed to be revisited in Australia as it held great potential to be a safer and cleaner solution to the world's future energy needs.

Despite his views being challenged by members from academia, government and industry, Mr Ball said nuclear power was the only energy source that had the capacity to supply Australia's future demand without releasing carbon.

"Scientists largely agree that we have to, at minimum, half our carbon emissions. I don't see this happening without nuclear power," Mr Ball said.

"I believe in renewable energy and I support it. But I don't think it has the capacity in the short term that is required to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

"It is important that our decision making is based on fact, not fear. We don't have the luxury of being selective about what technologies we pursue and we must put every effort into addressing the challenges of every energy source. It would be naive to leave nuclear power out."

Mr Ball will enter into a graduate position with an accounting firm following his graduation in December. He said the conference was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate his passion of developing a sustainable future, using the skills and knowledge he had gained during his degree at Notre Dame.

"This experience has encouraged me that young people can make a difference and that we are ultimately in control of the future decisions that need to be made," Mr Ball said.

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences in Fremantle, Associate Professor Dylan Korczynskyj, said Mr Ball spoke with confidence on the often emotional topic.

"Even when his views on nuclear energy were challenged by the harshest critic and asked to explain his view in light of the recent Fukushima disaster, James put forward a well-researched response which showcased his readiness for the professional world," Assoc. Prof. Korczynskyj said.

"When asked more broadly about issues relating to supply and demand, it was clear that James switched from drawing upon his Science background and commented from his knowledge of economics – a great demonstration of the use of his two areas of study.

"This was an excellent experience for James and a fantastic opportunity for some positive exposure ahead of his graduation."

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