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Greens: Renewable energy more profitable than nuclear

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The renewable energy sector is increasingly outperforming nuclear industry, according to a new report. The Greens have used the report from Washington think-tank Worldwatch Institute to suggest Australia should invest more in renewable energy and less in uranium mining, which currently adds about $1.1 billion in exports to the Australian economy each year. The report claims the global nuclear industry was struggling long before the Fukushima crisis occurred, but that events in Japan would likely accelerate the decline. "When the history of the nuclear industry is written, Fukushima is likely to begin its final chapter," said Mycle Schneider, German energy consultant and lead author of the report. Greens spokesperson for nuclear affairs Senator Scott Ludlam says the nuclear industry would not survive in an open energy market. "Uranium mining makes no environmental sense and it has become clear that it makes no economic sense," he said, adding that uranium contributes just 0.3 percent of Australia’s export revenue. Therefore, the Australian government should invest in renewable energy if they want to compete in the rapidly expanding global clean power sector, he suggested. The report suggests the low cost and rapid mass production of renewable resources has contributed to the nuclear industry’s gradual decline. Countries like Italy and Kazakhstan were said to be past their "nuclear peak", having generated most of their nuclear electricity in the 1980s, while others including China, Russia and the US have increased their nuclear generation almost consistently. Any growth appears insignificant, however, compared with that of alternative energies. Annual renewable capacity additions have outpaced nuclear start-ups for 15 years, with the cost of building nuclear power plants increasing sixfold in the last decade. In 2010, worldwide cumulative installed capacity from wind turbines, biomass, waste-to-energy, and solar power surpassed installed nuclear capacity for the first time. An estimated $243 billion was invested in renewable energy technologies globally in 2010. Following the trend, Australia’s Federal Government has set a target for 20 percent of electricity to be generated by renewable power by 2020.

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