ISA condemned by union

The Electrical Trades Union has condemned Industry Super Australia's recent report on the energy crisis, saying it puts at risk the very people ISA is supposed to represent.

The report, Fixing the Energy Crisis, was issued by ISA last week. It makes broad recommendations for nuclear power and, according to the ETU, dismisses and diminishes renewables and battery capabilities.

ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said the report is full of holes and puts union members at risk - the very people ISA is meant to advocate for.

Hicks said: "The ETU has very strong concerns about this ISA report that broadly spruiks nuclear power while using flawed assumptions and poor modelling to write down the capacity of renewables and battery technology."

He claimed the report was produced without consulting key industry stakeholders.

"Our opposition to nuclear dates back to the Second World War when our members witnessed first-hand the death and destruction that comes with this form of power, and more recent disasters in Fukushima and Chernobyl only reinforce this view," Hicks said.

"That's why it's so vexing that industry funds our members pay their retirement savings in to would offer any support to a report giving the nod to nuclear."

Hicks' disappointment with ISA's stance on nuclear energy stems from the fact that the union views nuclear power and uranium mining as a deadly threat to workers.

"With the Federal Liberal Government totally incapable of leading on energy policy, we think ISA should take a leading role in energy investment, but it must not try to put our members retirement savings into a deadly industry that does not exist in Australia and is fading around the globe and consistently leads to spiralling costs," Hicks said.

ETU national industry coordinator Matthew Murphy also criticised the report, saying many of its findings were based on assumptions, rather than clear evidence.

"This report is biased toward nuclear power and against renewables and that clearly bares out in shoddy maths and assumptions like 'a battery will only run for one hour' or that the island nation of Australia is not suitable for offshore wind and tidal power," he said.

Murphy drilled down on one point in the report - the suggestion that Australia will need an energy storage capacity of 1.5 days.

He claimed this point seemed to be "plucked out of thin air" and added: "When was the last time the entire nation was blacked out for 36 hours?"

Murphy added that claims in the report that 100-150 nuclear reactors would be enough to power half the nation were unrealistic.

"Unlike the numbers in the report, we can't pluck nuclear reactors out of thin air. And there is likely to be huge public opposition from the 150 towns where these deadly power plants would be built," he said.

In a statement accompanying the report, ISA chief economist Stephen Anthony said: "There is no single simple solution to Australia's energy trilemma right now. There is no reason to exclude any of the major technological contenders - solar, wind, combined-cycle gas, pumped and even nuclear - from the current or future energy mix."

As for why ISA released the report, chair Greg Combet said super funds have the purpose and capital to partner with the government to develop long-term solutions to energy problems.

"In the event of continued stand-offs on energy policy making, far-sighted industry super funds can play a role," Combet said.

Read more: ISAETUIndustry Super AustraliaAllen HicksGreg CombetMatthew MurphyStephen Anthony
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