Australia lacks oil reserves, and this is a security issue. A solution is the conversion of coal to oil. The carbon atoms in that oil do not lead to extra CO2 emissions. Oil from elsewhere would otherwise be used.
However the process of converting the coal to oil requires a lot of process heat, which is traditionally provided by burning half of the coal. However to do that would inevitably breach Australia's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The alternative is to use nuclear power. The conversion process is cheaper and more efficient if done at very high temperatures, over 900 degrees C. It turns out that there are modern passively safe reactor designs which provide that level of industrial process heat.
Doing this will be politically very favourable for the current government:
- Every voter can understand the need for secure access to oil for transport fuels.
- Many on the Left now understand the need for nuclear power to reduce CO2 emissions, so the introduction of nuclear power will wedge the opposition.
- Indonesia is making tentative steps towards nuclear power, and many Australians will think that is a good reason for us to do the same.
There are various options to site nuclear power far from most voters. Perhaps the Bunda Cliffs on the southern edge of the Nullabor, which is close to water, but high above a low risk coastline.