The development of a nuclear energy industry in South Australia will generate opportunities for other industries, not only in direct support of the nuclear industry but also to satisfy other, new, growing markets.
For example, components for the CNC machines, which are required for the remote processing of radioactive fuel assemblies in an IFR nuclear energy plant, are also required for the tracking mechanisms in a commercial solar power station.
The generators which are required for large wind turbine power plants would be applicable to small regional community nuclear energy plants. There will be a substantial demand for electrically-powered vehicles. We should be able to establish a viable industry for the production of electric generators and motors. And, of course, we will need steam turbines for our power plants.
The manufacturers of lead acid batteries are concerned by the reducing level of demand in the local automotive industry. If weight/capacity is unimportant, then deep-cycle, long-life sealed lead acid batteries have a clear 4:1 cost advantage over lithium batteries, and so are the battery of choice in solar power installations. Additionally, unlike lithium, the materials in a lead acid battery are readily recycled at the end-of life. Since, in Australia, household domestic power consumption accounts for about 30% of total generated capacity, we could achieve a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions if only 50% of households converted to battery-backed solar power. (Note: a cost/benefit analysis shows a financial benefit to householders who take this action. Please refer to my article "Off the Grid")
Why should we not also manufacture solar photovoltaic cells in Australia? Given a low-cost source of power, and a growing local market, we should be able to compete in the automated business of growing silicon crystals and manufacturing PV solar cells. The "sole Australian manufacturer of solar panels" in Adelaide is, of course, assembling imported PV cells into locally-manufactured frames. The facility is highly automated, and therefore competitive.
Given low-carbon low-cost industrial power, electrolytic aluminium production could be resumed at locations which are close to the market, such as Geelong, or at bauxite mining locations, such as Gove and the other Australian mines. If it should be decided to build defence vessels with aluminium superstructures at Whyalla, then it could also become a suitable location for an aluminium refinery. Aluminium will become an essential structural material, alongside steel, manufactured timber products, and carbon fibre.
If, of course, we re-open the Whyalla steel plate mill and fabrication workshops for the construction of reactor containment vessels, we would also be able to use the shipyard to build submarines and other vessels. The available space at Osborne is already committed to the maintenance and refitting of the fleet, so why not follow the usual practice of ship construction at a shipyard, and fitting-out at another location?
It is possible that, at some future time, Australia could take part in the manufacture of nuclear fusion reactors. However, the current international research projects e.g. the I.T.E.R. Project (in which Australia is not a participant), are not expected to result in a commercially viable fusion reactor design before 2050. The I.T.E.R. machine will necessarily be of large size and of high power capacity, so that we could probably justify only one nuclear fusion power station for the whole of Australia, with a large interconnect system. I have provided more details on my web-page "Nuclear Fusion", link: http://www.nvicon.org/id39.htm
Recently, the Skunk Works research division of Lockheed Martn in the U.S.A. has announced the invention of a small-size plasma containment cell which, if successful, could allow the design of a smaller nuclear fusion reactor. Such a machine could be built with a wide range of models of different size and energy capacity. Skunk Works predict that they will achieve proof- of-concept later in 2015, and produce a prototype commercial reactor within 10 years. Although Skunk Works has a record of success, the international science community is evenly divided between those who believe that the announcement was made to attract investment partners, and those who expect to see a practical breakthrough by the end of this year.