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Avoiding an Energy Blunder Down Under

Robert Parker

Monday, September 12, 2022

Chris Keefer  0:00  

Welcome back to Decouple. Today I'm joined by Robert Parker. Robert is the ex President of the Australian Nuclear Association. I met Robert, on a recent visit of his to Ontario where I had the pleasure of hosting him for a couple of days before his meetings with our nuclear regulator, our Minister of Energy here in Ontario, and with the OPG team working on small modular reactors, we've got a lot of stuff to talk about. Again, we had a great couple of days learned a lot about Robert, but I'm gonna let him do the Decouple thing and introduce himself. So Robert, warm welcome. And tell us a bit about who you are what you're all about.

Robert Parker  0:39  

Okay, Chris, it's great to meet up with you again, because we did have a lovely time in Canada, in Toronto. And we came to Canada with a bit of a mission. And I'll outline just briefly. Many years ago, I got involved with climate changes and interest as an issue. And in fact, within our local community. In 2007, I started a climate change group within our community. As I've mentioned to you before, I'm a civil engineer. And I worked for about 3540 years on construction sites, and I was responsible for the profitable running of construction sites. So my background is strongly in ensuring the efficiency of construction design works tendering, I guess you could say over that work period, I've developed a good feel, particularly for the civil engineering components, excavation, getting your hands dirty, and also trying to make $1 out of it at the same time, that's always underlying what we did. Personally, well, I'm a grandfather, I live in the southern highlands of New South Wales, beautiful, temperate climate area, I've got a wife and his GP who works in these days, she or she used to run a local practice in the town of bow, but now she works out in remote area, Aboriginal health in the centre of Australia, and also deals with that with medical matters. They're online. So that's a demanding issue for, as I said, 10 grandchildren, and we have a great time with them. My experience, as I mentioned, as a civil engineer, and I was working in Southeast Asia, I was working in the Middle East, I work around the world and in Australia, and I became increasingly concerned about the issues of climate change. And I got in touch with James Hansen in the United States friend of yours and grandfather, climate change science. Back in about 2015, we brought him to Australia, was Sydney University, and the group called us and James Ethics Center, we, we had James speak, where we filled Melbourne 10 hole, we had people standing around the walls, his talk. Similarly, in Sydney, we had a great talk. And he met a number of our thinkers, including our future prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, very early on, James influenced me to believe that we should be looking at nuclear energy if we were going to address climate change. Through the group that I'd started locally earlier, earlier on, I thought wind and solar would do it. Then the engineer brain kicked in, and I thought, No, this nuclear stuff is probably the way to go. small footprint. And very efficient and not Weather-dependent. And so I went on and did a master's in nuclear science at the Australian National University, a lot of I was going to advocate for this stuff, I better get my skills base up. And so I lifted the skills base to be able to do that on top of the Masters I had in engineering science from civil engineering. So I've always been quite grounded in ensuring we have the facts. My life philosophy has always been a bit of a contrarian, I've got to admit, even as a kid growing up in a remote part of New South Wales. I was one of the early kids in our area back when I was about 13 or 14, about the Vietnam war issue. And I, I really got into that as an issue. Earlier on, I've always pushed the edges of, shall we say, yeah, that way the rest of society might always cast the die, I tend to tend to push back and that's what's happened with nuclear I've seen that we need to be pushing out and and so come forward. This is contrary and is now looking very strongly at nuclear energy for our country. But it's not. It's not about just being a flash in the pan. I like this term, the constant gardener. We've got to be constant as you are, Chris with your advocacy. You Gotta attend the field. As you get blossoms, you got to order them, and you got to keep the sheds growing. And so that constancy and continuing over the long term is what's essential if we're to get

change. I'm a Social Democrat, probably your listeners can probably judge by my age. And I grew up in the benefits of the post world war two reconstruction of all of our society, where we were our nation's build out our education, and defense forces, they build out our hospitals and medical systems. And Australia has always had a history of being well grounded in social democracy, despite the conservative the left and right swings, we are fundamentally a social democracy. And that then transcends into energy delivery, which we've seen in your nation. And as where governments initially build out our coal plants and build all that system and the great grid we've got. And now it's a time for social democracy to take to come into play again, and rebuild our energy systems around nuclear. So that's a bit on the life philosophy.

Chris Keefer  6:13  

It's very thorough introduction, and I think you did a great job of piecing it all together. Yeah, I really, really enjoyed that I was just had Michael Shellenberger on recently, and we were exploring this question of the kind of psychological profile of the people that that get into nuclear advocacy. So, so great to hear your origin story, and some of your qualifications. And I'm really excited for this conversation. We were kind of joking that it's going to be a little bit of a smorgasbord. There's so many areas I want to touch on. I'm very excited that you're working so hard to bring nuclear energy to Australia to get rid of the ban. And I think that having your leadership as again, a civil engineer, with with construction experiences is so important, because you know, in Decouple we're constantly wrestling with that question of the so called nuclear secret sauce, how to do this, right? Nuclear is not easy. And I think it takes the careful thought of people with education and really with experience. So I'm looking forward to digging into that with you. But first off, why don't we talk a little bit about the current situation in Australia, there's a global energy crisis. Europe is obviously in major, major trouble. We have Emmanuel Macron, talking about the end of abundance in France, I believe the Belgian Prime Minister, warning that there will be maybe a decade of hard winters, the threatened sort of deindustrialization of Germany as energy prices absolutely skyrocket. I've heard some stories about Australia. I mean, it's interesting, you guys I think are huge, natural gas exporters, but fill me in a little bit more on on the state of things in Australia right now.

Robert Parker  7:52  

Okay. Well, Chris, I'm very much interested in a comment you made about what you called Fire economies. I got an interesting take on that, which is Australia's fast becoming what I kind of call a relic economy

Chris Keefer  8:09  

just to define fire. That's that's finance, insurance, real estate. Sometimes I R E, I throw in his renewable energy as well, maybe a fyrir. Economy. But just just so our listeners understand that that reference, well that Australia is a relic economy.

Robert Parker  8:24  

Yeah, relic called live because I think that we're fast become an economy based upon real estate, legalese insurance, and the C word. Coffee. I'm sick and tired of watching our nation becoming so concentrated and focused on these non productive in terms of tangible assets, and infrastructure. And so relic is a pretty good name for where our economy is going. Where, for example, outsourcing, as much of as many of our events notions are much of our means of production. And this is, this is destroying the creativity of our nation, and particularly younger, useful people and not being exposed to the benefits that we Baby Boomers were the challenges of construction of a nation of putting the structure and the architecture together of a nice thing. Unfortunately, they're being exposed to the outsourcing. You know, you don't subcontract changing a light bulb, but that's the way we're getting. We've got to be able to be resilient. And so the idea around having an energy industry that grows from within the resources of the nation as a opposed to going down to the wolf and moving or opening up a cardboard box that comes in from China or India, that's where Australia is heading. And I was mightily impressed with what you're doing in Canada, in harnessing your own internal resources, your own vertical integration of your energy systems in Australia has got a lot to learn from Canada, Canada. Further in Australia, like Canada, we are a big resources rich nation. And we got to keep out at turn our air exchange rate at a certain point so that we derive enough income from that, but that means that our wages are high. When you go high wages, it's difficult to always export manufactured goods, you managed to do it in Canberra, in Canada with your auto industry as is collapsed. And we're seeing now with increasing energy prices, and we're going to touch on this, our energy prices are going through the roof right now. And you can't add high energy and high wages and expect the manufacturing or the creative side of your nation can never prosper. So we've got to grab a hold of that. The notion which we're seeing abroad in Australia president about renewables is that we're going to be some kind of energy superpower because we're used to being able to export coal, put it in a ship, dig it up, like cost, we're probably one of the world's most efficient exporters of fossil fuels, and gets the notion that you're going to build an export hydrogen out of electrolyzers is fanciful, the North Asian nations, they're gonna go and turn the nuclear power plants back on, they're not going to have us exporting hydrogen tankers all around the world. Certainly not coming out of electrolyzers. And we are tone deaf, for example, what the Chinese have just done when they've turned on the HT RPM, for the benefit of the listeners, that's a pebble bed, high temperature reactor. You don't need those if you don't produce electricity. But you can sure as easy do direct hydrogen splitting and shove that stuff straight into a blast furnace for the reduction of steel. So we're tone deaf to these developments, but the Koreans know how to do it. Chinese know how to do it, the Japanese know how to do it. We don't show the rest of the world is going to catch on to this. So we need effective decarbonisation, because that's that underpins all of this energy change. But at the same time, we got to put a backbone into the Australian people by harnessing our own internal resources, as you're doing Canada, with your CANDU reactors, and now the new paid every 300 Darlington, we're going to take a leaf out of your book, and you've got some terrific ideas, which I've heard you express. So Chris, about what Canada has happened during World War Two. Yeah,

Chris Keefer  13:04  

I mean, we did have Seth Klein on recently, I guess, not recently, probably about a year ago. But that is a fascinating story. You know, his thesis is very much around, you know, this, this question of a world war two era mobilization around climate change. And it's so interesting talking to you, and hearing your reflections as someone of your generation, that kind of postwar period of construction of our social services of our industry, etc. But, you know, during World War Two, just for listeners who didn't listen to that episode, Canada had the third largest air force, in terms of total number of planes, we produce more armored vehicles than the axis allies combined. It was a real period of of industrialization. I mean, I think we were prior to that much more just shipping out natural resources to the mother country, in terms of agricultural products, and timber and things like that, for for God's sakes, but it was a it was a real period of, of, of industrialization, and one that, you know, Seth Klein, who's kind of renewable centric climate Hawk harkens back to all kinds of criticisms of his sort of theory of how that reindustrialization would be powered. But interesting read nonetheless. So, you know, as a couple of things that are that are from our conversation so far that are striking me, we're talking about the ways in which a lot of Western economies are heading towards relic economies coasting off of the infrastructure that folks like, you know, in your generation helped to build. But also, you know, the threat of further hollowing out of that productive economy through high energy prices, something I'm referring to as deindustrialization, 2.0 Of course, 1.0 referring to this general process of perhaps a kind of neoliberal paradigm of globalization and of you know, chasing cheaper labor lower environmental standards. You You know, in order to produce our goods in terms of the productive economy element. So again, tell me about what's what's going on in terms of your read of of what's happening in Australia, again, as mentioning that, you know, your major fossil fuels superpower, huge exporter of natural gas. So, you know, the States, United States have managed to keep costs under control because of having an abundant natural gas supply. But I've heard that, you know, Australia and Australia is also facing a kind of gas crisis. Prices are going through the roof, and what are your thoughts about how that's impacting Australia's ability to kind of do a reconstruction and sort of, you know, follow the program, I think that you're suggesting?

Robert Parker  15:41  

Okay, good question. And I've looked at some numbers on this and just patiently. I'm in New South Wales, our largest state, kinda like Ontario's to Canada, our electricity prices have gone, for example, from January 21, we're paying about 24 cents a kilowatt hour, that's to consumer out of the plug in the wall, okay. If you're purchasing from one of these wholesale companies, which are just adding a margin on not hedging, just using the pool price, and then putting on transmission and retail costs, and all of that is out there add on, you're currently paying 68 cents, that's a three fold increase,

Chris Keefer  16:27  

and then base, that baseline is pretty high, that baseline is pretty high. I mean, it's double what we pay in Ontario,

Robert Parker  16:32  

we paid 20 for the equivalence. I think when I did the currency conversion, I think you're paying about 18 Australian cents, which is about 15, I think Canadian cents, okay. So even our baseline is too high, a 24. And it certainly doesn't reflect the low coal prices in Australia. So that 24 up to 68. What's caused that? I'll tell you now, Chris, it's not the cost to coal Garner. And it's not cost to gas Garner. That's where we got to get and for the listeners benefit, we've got to disconnect the notion that cost and price they're essentially linked. Cost is one thing, the price has to do with your liberalized energy market. And when we've got price coming in, and what's happened is, we've got this massive growth in renewables. For the last 12 months in Australia, we're running on about 25 to 30%, renewables in an energy mix, about seven or 8% of that is hydro. So shore hydro is great, because you can turn it up or down. But you got the best part of 25% of rooftop utility grade and wind power coming in. And so this is 30% of electricity or energy, electricity, not interested in primary energy, just electricity, okay. Now, it's not fuel prices that are driving are primarily sure they've gone up a bit that I did a cow just before I went out about two three months ago that indicate about seven 8% might be the effect of fuel prices. The major thing has been that when the coal generators are told that you're not being invited to the wedding anymore, don't be surprised if they don't invest. Okay, so the reliability of these coal plants, some of which are 40 and 50 years old, is reducing because the investment incentive is not there to keep those on stream for the next decade. They've been told that come to the wedding anymore. Well, if you don't want us at the wedding, Mo we want to show up, we're gonna get a job elsewhere. We're gonna sell coffee, okay. And, and so what happens is when you get a high demand period, like we had this winter, and when this inexorable trend to reducing environment, availability of the coal plants comes in, you will get a massive price spike. And that's exactly what we got massive price spikes because of the unreliability due to under investment in our existing fossil fuel resources. There is no plan, no integrated plan for smooth energy evolution or change in Australia. You try to do it within the constraints of a liberalized model. You're not trying to plan this centrally, there is no plan, our energy ministers at a state levels and our Federal Energy Minister can't agree on any integrated, proper plan. And if we had to do this sort of thing, and hold the economy together, as much as I hate to say it, we need to be getting those coal plants back and reliable. So that people People can get themselves organized to be able to have a transition, that's not going to destroy the economy at the same time, what we're doing is nuts. Now, obviously, as a strong nuclear advocate, I would like to see a smooth transition to small modular reactors throughout Australia. And we'll come to that later. And I certainly did not discount the idea of building large plants in selected areas of Australia. So I believe a hybrid system of largest, smallest realistic, and also small reactors are also realistic. So that gives you a bit of a sweep over where our energy prices are going. But it I'll mention another thing, which is, is as an evolving catastrophe going right now in Australia with this energy transition, and it's about a project called Snowy Hydro two. Okay. And this is a project, the engineer and me says this is a good idea. This is a big pumped hydro project, 2000 megawatts of power and about 345,000 megawatt hours of energy. In other words, that's about a week's worth of power, stored a bit of energy stored in this system,

Chris Keefer  21:23  

one week's worth of power to a city to territory, what are we talking about

Robert Parker  21:28  

here, 2000 megawatts that can run for a week out of this reservoir,

Chris Keefer  21:33  

which is a lot but but not run the country. I'm just trying to get a sense, you couldn't run the

Robert Parker  21:37  

country because it is Australia currently is running on, shall we say Greek Greek capacity on the national electricity market. If we've got about 60,000 megawatts installed, at any one time, we'd probably running about a max of about 30 gigawatts. And so this pump storage system would have a power capacity of about two compared to a normal guys level up around 30. Okay, it's a backup for the efficient supply of renewables. That's what it was thought to be. Now, when we when this idea was first floated down, Snowy Hydro, not Snowy Hydro too Snowy Hydro was built back in the 50s and 60s, in Australia, beautiful project, and tilt still today, it produces about seven or 8% of our electricity on the national electricity market. So it's a great bit of gear contained within that system of dams built down in the south of New South Wales, bordering on to Victoria, were two large reservoirs. And the potential was that you could always link these two large reservoirs with a pump storage system, and get even more power out of this system. And that's what Snowy Hydro 2.0 is, was the idea that we could blink these with a big tunnel, about 600 meters differential head and link them put a big turbine in there. Use those reservoirs to absorb renewable energy and pump it out to the grid. sounded great. Okay. And our previous Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull floated the thing that was going to be a $2 billion project. And everyone thought, Gee, that sounds good. And and only go for two gigawatts. Oh, gee, that's great. Okay, so I went out to tender and the tenders came in at 5.1 billion. And by the way, we forgot to tell you that we actually need a grid connection. What's the grid connection going to cost our 1.3 billion? Oh, well, we'll forgive you that, except the grid connection, then went up to about 3.4 billion. And then we've just had a cost blowout of another 2.2 billion. And the head bank contractor has said, Well, he's actually run out of operating cash to keep going. And then we've got another connection for this going down into Victoria, which is good for roundabout another 3.2 billion. So all in up, this original $2 billion project is now gotta run out to the 1213 14 billion region. Okay, this is something that does not generate electricity. It disperses the electricity generated by renewables. Okay. All that kind of money, Chris. That would buy probably a couple of gigawatts of nuclear energy sitting in our mind. We could replace coal plants that have left the the scenario and we could have had two gigawatts of nuclear power operating 92% capacity factor because this is what else now hydride to its anticipate, compare St factor is going to be down around 70%. Now when you go in for a talk for a million dollars at 70% capacity factor, you gotta be charging people around about two to $300 over and above your buying price on an arbitrage market. So this is for a Prime Minister who said there is no business case for nuclear in Australia. Okay. And this is the pump we've been sold. And this is the pump that we keep getting out of the prime renewable Fernanda D in Australia. And they keep saying, Oh, we can have pump storage. If you can't make pump storage work out of existing reservoirs, you are never going to make it work. I mean, the pump, the storage was the most expensive part of your pump system. And you can't make it work. It's it's a scandal. And this is where we need to be doing a monumental stocktake. I like the idea of pump storage. But this is not what we're doing is not.

Chris Keefer  26:10  

Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of criticisms, obviously, of 21st century nuclear, and particularly in the west with Vogel and some of the European pressurized reactor designs, going, you know, double over maybe even triple over at Vogel. I mean, in the West, we seem to suck at building things. I mean, you've been a civil engineer, you mentioned you worked in Asia, Africa, really across the world. I'm certainly interested in your thoughts. And maybe we'll get into that a bit later in the interview about you know, again, these these ideas about the nuclear secret sauce and and, you know, with with with Michael Shellenberger again, last week, we're really talking a lot about the human factors side of nuclear, both in terms of nuclear communications, promotions, you know, we need to center the human story. But you know, in terms of actually getting the stuff built, doing a good job of that, I'm just wondering, maybe as a as a teaser to the conversation that's coming, if you could just talk briefly about, you know, the, the state of the workforce, and I get your sense of, you know, why why snowy owl went so, so far over budget.

Robert Parker  27:13  

I, my sense of it is that a lot of our nations thought it was a really good idea to get rid of public servants for new stuff. Again, I go back to the era of at my generation, when we had electricity commission. We had strong public services with knowledgeable engineers, they knew how to build things and knew how to plan and they took time, and they plan them. And they worked. And what we've transitioned to is people, parenting, the date got rid of public overhead, we've got rid of all the public servants, we don't need them. What they've done is they've reduced themselves to a political group who do not know how to ask the questions, and are prone to being pushed and pulled, or the political size of different pressure groups. You could call nuclear pressure group, you could call renewables a pressure group, they're a very effective pressure group. What is strongly needed and this is, when I, again, look at the way you've rolled out nuclear in Ontario. I know sometimes, it despairs you a bit, but I'll tell you, from what I saw from as an outsider, you guys are still got your centralized planning concepts at the heart of your rollout? We don't have that. In this nature we have, we tend to have wide share brigade, as I call them, of developers of wind and solar, using pressure and lobby groups within our halls of power in Canberra. And there is no and that then transcends into political pressure in the ballot box, that there is no strong centralized Commission's properly analyzing the options. If they're analyzing anything or analyzing, for example, renewables, but they're not going to analyze nuclear and as we know, in Australia, nuclear, we've got laws even against, which we can touch on in a minute. So we're not looking at a proper objective situation in this nation at all.

Chris Keefer  29:29  

I think this is such an important point. I mean, the hollowing out of the public service, that kind of depth of expertise. I'm not sure the the situation in Australia, but I think China's famous for having, you know, and the degree to which its parliament has any real power is, I think, up to debate in terms of how centralized and dictatorial their system is. I'm no expert on China, but their leadership and much of their political representatives are engineers in the West In the US, it's mostly mostly lawyers, millionaires. I mean, there's some titans of industry I guess, in, in, in a state of policymaking a representation, but they're vanishingly few. And without that educated public service, it really seems like governments in the West are flying blind and very prone to, you know, just, frankly, energy illiterate, planning. And I mean, we saw that in Canada with the German Chancellor's visit here, you know, ostensibly, you know, around trying to get gas, liquid liquefied natural gas to replace the Russian supplier of Canada. And what ended up being signed was a kind of airy fairy MOU around producing electrolyzed, hydrogen, hydrogen from electrolyzers hooked up to a wind farm, to transport as ammonia across the Atlantic to Germany, I mean, the you would think that if there were any sort of public servants with with energy and energy and engineering expertise, they would have been able to immediately shoot this down. But I mean, this is the outcome of of this huge German delegation and visit and you've also talked about how Australia I think, is being branded as a kind of Saudi Arabia of, of, you know, solar based hydrogen. You know, I think you've, you've kind of already summarized this, but you know, how how these kinds of categorical errors are occurring in terms of public planning is, is fascinating, and frankly, a little bit depressing.

Robert Parker  31:28  

It's hardly depressing. And I'm sorry to hear about that experience you've had with the Germans coming in there, to some very corrupting common sense, even with the Toronto sphere, because, you know, I've read the paper that's on the energy efficiency of using Ra, to try to create hydrogen out of electrolyzers. And then to convert that to ammonia, and then ship it. I mean, the energy is worn out of that stuff before it ever hits the port. It's, it's, it's crazy stuff. There are vastly more efficient, there's some very good papers, there's a long litany of research of the direct chemical reduction of correct direct chemical splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen and the creation of Monix. There are much more efficient ways of doing and then I will come because the world is not going to put up with this nonsense for much longer of, of Australia. And that awful time. You just mentioned there, the Germans and and Canadians try and do that. It's crazy stuff. So yeah, we really need to have properly appointed experts who operate objectively speak truth to power, but not only to power, but the people as well. These dialogues need to be able to have be had within the body politic within the people who vote. And we are, and that's what I tried to do when you're trying to do is help to educate our populace on these issues, in our own ways, as to build out a knowledge of unfortunately, we're seeing in Australia now. Are the lights starting to turn on in terms of this nebulous nature of, of renewable economies? And so if one looks around at the polls that we're seeing in Australia, we are seeing a lot of increased interest in nuclear. Now, of course, you can do push polling, and I've seen push polls in Australia, getting nuclear is favorable up around 65%. You know, if you saw it, if you tell people for example, it pose a question, we need nuclear to meet our Paris goals, it's a chafes. So claim form of energy would favor it and pull 65% If you ask an objective question, would you like to get to use nuclear power on Australian grid? You'll pull about 51 or 52%. Just ask and even adequate. Okay, so we're over the line in terms of the interest of the body politic in Australia for this and that's not dissimilar to what you would find in Iran nation or in France, for example, we're not everyone even knows for example, in France, that nuclear is the carbon I mean, God why There you go. So the panels are telling us in Australia that people want to hear it. The number of venues we're speaking at the numbers of community groups, I'm I'm doing talks all the time now as are my other colleagues, so pushing us so I am seeing the signs but our current Labour government in Australia and I used to be a member of this trying over party, okay, and, and as a Social Democrat, that's when I throw sprang from dark, they have got a policy which outlaws nuclear energy in the in party platform. And they are pushing back very strongly against it. I don't believe every member of the output is against it. But I'd certainly Chris Boehner energy ministers against it. And he's very aggressively against it. Boss on the other hand, he's had a bit of a shock recently where the head of Snowy Hydro basically resigned and said, you know, the relationships broken down at this guy Snowy Hydro to is majority owned by the Australian Government, for example. And so they couldn't reach a consensus, Chris Bowen wanted to know, for example, why new gas turbines can't be filled tomorrow with hydrogen, renewable hydrogen and a gas turbine. And Paul brought the gentleman a result and had the temerity to say, Well, it's kind of decades away. Well, that Nana worked out, okay, there wasn't going to be a workable relationship. So he decided to leave the relationship. Now, these are the sorts of things we've got playing out with an aggressive kind of anti nuclear policy, but I think we're gonna say these huge electricity prices go through the market. And if that, combined with the potential for a blackout, we'll see a very fast shift in Australia.

Chris Keefer  36:25  

I mean, you're painting a pretty dire picture with the coal plants, which you know, this new precarious Australian grid that so dominated by renewables really relies on and here we've had John Constable on and, and just talking about how, you know how vulnerable these renewables based systems are and how much how critical that dependence is on the reliable energy that can sort of save the day when they when they underperform. And clearly, you know, these coal plants in Australia, 50 years old, as you're saying, they're, they're breaking down and they're, they're at risk of, of, you know, closing and then there's nothing left to prop up this whole house of cards. It's often said that the best time to build nuclear was 10 years ago, 20 years ago. We live in the present moment, that's not possible. But I'm wondering, you know, something that we've experienced here in Ontario is that nuclear and renewables don't play particularly well together. You know, we did a big renewables build outs, you know, we attempted to become sort of the Germany of North America follow the energy venda Amory Levin's was up here consulting with with our big hydroelectric utility. And we pursued that path we gave, for instance, we gave wind first access to the grid. And that meant that we would shut our nuclear plants down when when the gusts were blowing, they'd be off for three days, the wind would go away in a few hours or a day, and we'd have to burn a hell of a lot of gas to balance out the system. You know, and you're in Germany, they talk about this a lot about how you know, nuclear is greedy, it takes up the grid, it doesn't allow renewables to come on the grid, you have to curtail renewables. More, I mean, there's some real, you know, patronage relationships that play here politically, economically. And I'm wondering to what degree that's that's a barrier, or how that how you see that sort of struggle, panning out.

Robert Parker  38:13  

I'll get back to objective analysis on this, because what you actually just talked about, was this patronage relationship. And let's get that let's get this back to objective analysis. And colleague of mine who visited Canada with Dr. Robert Barr, he's got an Order of Australia for services to electrical engineering and the great Order of Australia as bad as high as you get an honor. Dr. Barr is a very gifted mathematician. And he's put together an energy model, which he and I use to look at how we mix different kinds of energy generators to meet our demand. And we use for data on its costs produced by group Hickel, in Australia called CSR. And we put these costs into the model. And we look at this this mix. Now the beauty of the model is that we can calculate the carbon emissions, but we also calculate the costs of whatever spectrum of generators you'd like to put into it. And so we can do 100% renewables and we've done that with the model, we can do an optimum nuclear mix, and we can do anything in between and what the model tells us is if you try to put a small amount, or even 2030 40% of nuclear into a renewable mix, whether renewables have got priority, which you suffer then on terror, you are going to get very low capacity factors out of your nuclear power plants, which is going to drive up the cost your options, you've only got a couple of options here either gotta have a permanent Power Price. On try for you nuclear. Okay, so in other words, you let the nuclear run Heavens to bed, it's a high capital item, you've spent a lot of money on it, you may as well wring its neck on the grid to get get the, the the capacity factors up around the 90 to 93%, which is what you're seeing in North America. And then what you say the renewables, okay, we build them out only so far. And if we can't receive the energy, you got to put it into storage, or leave the lead the same. The only other option is going down and giving the renewables the penetration they want, and then watch your cost of nuclear blowout. But the renewables fraternity saw this problem a decade ago or longer 20 years ago. And they came up with this phrase, the myth of baseload power plant in Canada, short it in Australia, all the grains that got this narrative, the myths, the myth of baseline, and that the lexicon was developed by some pretty clever dudes, I suspect that probably in Europe, but they gave him a toolbox full of bullshit. And they have been parading that nonsense around the world, that the idea that between your evening demand down to zero is not baseload is crazy stuff. So what energy model did is we looked at what is this optimum mix for nuclear and renewables in Australia, okay, I'm not anti renewables, I'm just after the right mix. And so in the model that we ran, we say that about 76%, nuclear, that takes us up to our baseload. In the daytime, you let the solar run we've got great solar penetrations great solar resource in Australia. So you use that in the middle of your day.

And you use your hydro on the shoulders, and you also use some storage in the shoulder period. And so you can drive your nuclear up, you can drive your solar up to around about 16 17% of your grid, you can drive your hydro hydro to about 8% and your nuclear about 76%. And that gives us the lowest cost option for an energy system at cost. The other benefit of this system that I'm outlining here, as I mentioned before, price, price is not cost. Such a system would be so stable, that the mechanisms for arbitrage and gaming, the thing would be significantly reduced. Because when you go into a 100% renewable scenario, where you've got when you've got salah, you've got all the storage, you got all the backup, and you've got all these bits, all the balls you're trying to keep in there in the air at any one time, what you've done is you've actually created massive opportunities to game the system, and to create huge profits out of arbitrage. And that's why these renewable systems will never be like cost, because the cost of entry for the developer is low. And the potential for massive profits out of arbitrage a very high. So the you know, our analysis showed basically even our cost basis that a nucleus system in Australia would be close to half the price of a renewable system. And the really, one of the really big factors in all of that is that we can put a nuclear system in place on the Australian grid. And we don't need to change the grid. If you put a renewable system in you need at least 10,000 kilometers of new transmission and probably more. It's not Rob Parker, maybe that's the Australian electricity market operator have told us 10,000 kilometers of extra transmission, that it's likely more because at the same time, they're advocating that we should be pulling, get this 69 gigawatts of domestic level batteries. And they're going to power the grid back at a domestic level batteries when you get a wind drought, or something like that. So they need the capacity back in our grid. And at the domestic level. It's only ever energized to about 15 gig. So you're going to feed all of that back through your distribution system. And that's the most expensive part of your transmission system is you just domestic distribution. That you know they're they're a fairy tale setting. I'm getting wrapped up in numbers I know but it It just shocks me that these ideas of flight,

Chris Keefer  45:03  

it's really a question of, you know, the emperor is not wearing any clothes. And this brings us back again to the the lack of, you know, skilled folks in the public sector to critically evaluate this. I mean, there's also it sounds like a perfect opportunity for a lot of corruption, whether that's formal or informal, you know, in front of the scenes or behind the scenes. You know, these patronage relationships, I think, are so important because as a bit of a real politic guy thinking about how policies actually change how governments make decisions. There's, there's obviously certainly a means motive and opportunity for a lot of patronage and influence coming from the profiteers of this renewable economy and working that way into politics. And I feel like the only patronage relationship that nuclear has is physics. You know, Doomberg, a great friend of our podcast, one of their great, great quotes is in the in the war between platitudes and physics. Physics is undefeated. And this energy crisis is really an example of physics, being undefeated, and the folks that have designed these House of Cards systems are in a lot of pain right now. And I mean, I, this is a difficult question to answer. But I mean, just imagining how the politics need to change in order for common sense to prevail against these moneyed interests, this kind of rentee a class, which is really sort of seize the levers of power. You know, it's, it's, it's going to be very interesting times ahead. And, you know, that's this is the first time I've actually come up with this, because, you know, thinking again, about about, you know, what is the patronage relationship behind nuclear that can allow it to grow politically, I've been really stumped. But I think I think physics, I think physics the answer.

Robert Parker  46:48  

Yeah, you have a medical background. I've got an engineering background, Chris, and someone. And unfortunately, people don't listen to numbers, you know. And when you go to the Australian Labor Party Party platform, okay, where somehow we're going to get to zero carbon using renewable. I mean, the embodied energy in, in a wind in a wind system where the batteries up over 100 grams of carbon dioxide, okay? The embodied energy, carbon emission sitting in a solar system with batteries, is up around 70 or 80 grams, okay? So it's only an ILP party platform, where the sum of two positive numbers can equal zero. It's an end. So these notions, these favorable nations dominate. Proper analysis, to our joint disappointment. We see this happening all the time. And I come back that public servants, tenured public servants who do the job properly, are not being asked and our body politic do not know how to ask the questions anymore, because they have so hollowed it out. And they are now at the sway of lobbying groups in Canberra, the renewables industry are one of the biggest lobby groups we've got in Canberra. And they're continued knocking on the doors, and continuing to push their agenda on politicians who, frankly, are naive, and current energy minister really has no technical or educational qualifications to be fulfilling Iraq. I mean, compare that with what you might find in China, you know, you'd have somebody who's got an engineering electrical engineering degree show, we've got some parliamentarians with proper training. But having a minister without any it's it's all you know, to train training just comes out of a party. Right? That's, that's the problem with

Chris Keefer  48:59  

Well, let's let's pivot to a more hopeful future. Maybe in which that physics patronage relationship has has paid off. And I mean, I don't say that lightly, because there's a lot of pain brewing. You know, Robert Bryce just had a great bit, looking at the skyrocketing price of fertilizer, and you know, how this energy crisis is quickly going to turn into a food crisis and potentially localized famine around the world. It's, it's really daunting, so I don't make light of this. This kind of this dose of medicine that may be required, or, you know, may lead to smarter choices being made some common sense coming back. But yeah, let's let's pivot a little bit to, I guess, you know, your hopes for, for what this energy system that you're proposing and that your modeling would look like. I'm very interested again, tapping into your your civil engineering background. In these questions of, you know, what kind of choices you mentioned small modular reactors are a good fit for a lot of the Australian grid, there's a place for large reactors. There's obviously a plethora of designs out there, there's the question of, you know, should we pursue advanced nuclear? Should we go with a very conservative design? Like, like boiling water reactor like the x 300? Like we're doing here in Ontario? I'm interested in your thoughts around that, particularly around this question of, of construction. Because, you know, the reason that I care so deeply about this question of, you know, again, what I refer to affectionately as the nuclear secret sauce is that we don't have the luxury of screwing this up, it's very hard to do nuclear, right. If we do it wrong, we could really blow it. And I think that is really the essence of why we need to study this question. So clearly, and again, why I'm excited to talk to you as a civil engineer with with the experience that you have. So give us your thoughts a little bit on on, on what this nuclear future in Australia could look like. And some of the criteria that you might use to assess the available options, you know, as as a kind of new kid in the candy store of nuclear, with, with what's available out there. What kind of partnerships which countries you'd work with, you know, what kind of designs way too big of a question, but we'll get the ball rolling and kick it along.

Robert Parker  51:10  

Yeah, it's a great question, because I've gone through the evolution of hopes and and seeing them dashed. You know, I go back to the AP 1000. The Westinghouse design, which is a lovely, lovely small plant, I had great hopes for that. That 1100 megawatts output, good size, maximum size, you know, you'd see in Australia, they cut the guts out of the materials component, and that, I think they pull about 76, or six 60% of the materials. And it is a small plan. And the Chinese built for them in Quick Time, and they've got them going and they work well. Go to the execution in the United States VC summer invoked when we've seen the VC summer plant, which I visited during the course of construction. And I was so disappointed to see those projects fail. They didn't fall because the design was no good. They failed because of the inability of the project management systems. And the vertical integration of the supply chains were not properly developed. That for example, is almost part integral part to part of the success you've got in Ontario with your refurbishment of candy flakes. But you have been BW XT industries just up the road, you've got your supply chain, in close proximity to where you're building this. And you translate that over to South Korea. Another nation which I visited with Dr. Barn and and Berry Hill from Australia in SMR. Australia, we visited the Korean system. And we looked at the massive vertical integration, we're going to do some heavy industries where we looked at the making the reactor pressure vessels in the steam generators, and we've formed this impression that all of that gear was close by and they all knew each other. And they all knew each other's phone numbers. And the whole thing was just like Lego blocks, they could put these things together. And so we saw a chin quarry 345 and six, we saw the construction of those large 1400 megawatt reactors. And so you saw there the contrast the train a nation who could build on a vertical integrated system with strong project management and timelines, with a defined completed design in place, before construction starts when you look at the way that construction sites actually look, they are orderly, they are clean, and they are well managed. As a civil engineer can tell, you know, when a site is in trouble when you walk on it by the layout, the orderly mind, I'll bet you notice a similar metaphor, for example, in operating pedigrees, you know when it's Harmon and you know when it's not. And that's the same on a civil engineering project. And unfortunately, when we went to one of the Theses summer site, we didn't see a strong thread of timelines, project parameters being met. And we didn't see this same kind of industry that I've experienced in the Asian economies also in hydropower in Asia, for example. So I'll come back as a as a guy who has been on construction. Some of the really critical things, particularly for new combination like Australia, is to ensure that whatever we build as precedent, don't start with something that is half baked or a few drawings unfortunately, like what happened of gluto in Finland with the EPR F. Make sure someone else has built it. As the Koreans did when they built their first they use back terrible from the US to build efforts, so Australia needs to do that. So you start with something that has been built an MIT, there's their papers on this, make sure your design is fully built. But also make sure your project management systems are in place. I'm sure your subcontractors are all fully engaged, signed up, make sure they're all trained. And sure, they all know what they're going to do take time before you start building to get all your ducks in a row. And sometimes I've been criticized on jobs, you know, he's starting to slowly yet, but I finished them fast. That's the way it get all your ducks in a row. And then when you're ready, come out of the box fly. So that's really the most important part. The next thing is a mechanistic level, as I see different nuclear power small modular reactors on the market, and I see some of them with very large reactor buildings. And they're going to build them deep in the ground. And I see the BW x, well, it's it goes deep in the ground, but it's got a very small subterranean footprint. So you don't want to be going deep in the ground if you can possibly avoid it, because when you do, you get hydraulic forces starting to play Maryhill with you. So you've got to control the foundations very well. And you've got to drill the daylights out of them. So you know every bit of that foundation intimately what you find, when you get down that we have the example, in Sydney, for example, when the opal research reactor was built, that the contractor found on excavating, and there was actually an old fault line. And they got the wobbly date there until they resolved that that was a non issue. So you've got to know where all of the parts of the foundation are by investigative drilling geotechnical, and all of those issues have got to be fully resolved. And then finally, you've got to have this supply chain fully in place vertically oriented supply chain, and the Koreans didn't have that when they started. But they sure as hell had the benefit of Bechtel, organizing it back then, in the days when a lot of reactors were being built internationally. And it wasn't such an issue was it is which it is today at the startups. So for Australia,

I would advocate that we should be looking very strongly at a hybrid system to get onto these jobs quickly, we've got some very large ol coal plants to gigawatt level are going to be locating the system with powerful connections to a major load centers. And I think they should be very well investigated for large plants going in there. And then I think at the extremities of our grid, because our grid is one of the longest in the world, we should be putting small plants like the BW x 300, for example of extremities in green, and we get to have a hybrid system. Do we could be doing both? is where I think we should look because we know that particularly the APR 1400 out of Korea, we know they delivered on time and to budget not just done at America in the United Arab Emirates, you know, is a nation that didn't have a nuclear industry. And lo and behold, 910 years later, they've got 5.6 gigawatts and fully in a fully trained workforce. And they're, they're up and running.

Chris Keefer  58:36  

Yeah, that's that's an incredible story. I mean, I think there's a few points I'd like to to address, you know, with your example of the Koreans, and with many of those sort of new nuclear nations, thinking in Asia, I mean, China for sure. You know, they, I mean, China sampled like it just a smorgasbord of, you know, every reactor technology. I'm not suggesting maybe following their model, but I think the Koreans, it's interesting, I'm worried, I think that there's a little too much kind of Western hubris to repeat that model, right to say, Okay, our nation, and as a Western nation, or, you know, predominantly settler, colonial White nation, we're not going to go to the Asians or the Koreans, you know, we're going to maybe go to an allied country, I think you make the case why working with Canada might be a good example, and why, you know, and this is sort of my thesis about how Canada's uniquely positioned within the West, because of those candy refurbishments. We have as you're mentioning that active supply chain, that's absolutely tool then we have the project management, I mean, it is very tied up with candy which is why I'm such a so bullish on candy and why I think we need to be building a lot more candy here and exporting it as well. But we are also going to be a first mover on SMR is and I think that we have the best chance of pulling that off again because of that established supply chain. But you know, it is interesting and I think an open question about you know, Certainly there's there's geopolitical reasons why you work with certain partners and not with others. Obviously, Rosa Tom is persona non grata accompany non grata in many countries and appropriately so. Despite being good at building reactors, it is going to kind of limit choices somewhat. So I guess, you know, I don't want to get too into into specifics there. But what I see when I look at the the emerging market in terms of potential companies and designs, within most of the West, it's sort of startups with nice CAD drawings and blueprints, things that have never been built before, you know, in countries that are unable to provide the whole package and the way that Korea did, or the way that Rosa Tom was able to in terms of some of the financing potentially not that the UAE needed financing, but in some of the other kind of first countries that are that are adopting nuclear, a lot of that is missing from these, I call them sort of like the tech startups of nuclear, the ability to start talking about the full fuel cycle and the waste cycle and, uh, handling all that, you know, I think, again, why Rosa, Tom is so successful in their exports. So you're very bullish on Australia working with Canada. Let's talk a bit about about why you are. Yeah, I mean, that's why you came to Ontario, and why we got to have a great visit together.

Robert Parker  1:01:19  

I'm very bullish on it. And it was reinforced actually, by an interesting narrative of the salesmanship of the term small modular reactor. prior to visiting Canada, I had three days down at MIT, where we had a conference there dealing with nuclear and a carbon constrained world and one of the presentations at the conference looked at polling throughout the United States, okay, of who's in favor of nuclear who's not and so they found just briefly, conservatives are in favor of nuclear those on the left or not, and you got a kind of linear relationship from extreme conservative to extreme left wing or on the on the other side, like left and right, but we're gonna just kinda have to run with those. That concept. Sure. And so you saw, okay, bullies nukes on the right. And he's down on the left. And state after state group after group age group after age group, it was a recurring trend. If you're for nuclear, if you call them small modular reactors, the line goes nearly horizontal. The left will were okay. And I said in other words, if I painted pink and put a bow on it, will they buy it? That's it. It sets the festival nature of marketing. And so we come forward to small modular reactors. And we come out of the issue here of Chris, you and I liking to see the analysis, the physics, we come into what is marketable to a populace. And small modular reactors are marketable to a populace. And so we then go, Okay, we're going to do this. And we then say, in Australia, okay, small modular reactors worked for us, because we've got a long, delicate grid. And they will certainly fill a lot of the Australian grid, and they will be acceptable to populations nearby, because transcend and bring that American research to Australia won't be so much different here. And it probably isn't that much different in the EU in the Canada drive. So we then come forward, okay. So why small modular reactors? Okay, if we go to one particular design, which I'm quite bullish of, and I'm bullish, because Ontario Power Generation, spent a couple of years distilling the outliers on small modular reactors, and they distilled it down, and they gave us a terrific presentation on this. I distilled it down to the big WX 300. It's not a sexiest small modular reactor in the world. There are fast spectrum reactors, which will burn all the waste, there are a whole plethora of other things which have all got good point. One, a beta x 300 Is it is got 60 years of a company who's distilled the concept of BWS down to this one small plant that's got more than 95% of the component tree out there in the field currently working. Now incorporated into this plan. They're using a very economic eco turbine, the 300 megawatt turbine, not using a hydrogen cool one, they're using this economic small turbo and they've got all the distillation of previously approved They're designed sitting in this one. And then we've got Ontario Power Generation who are not knowledgeable purchaser, why wouldn't you listen to them? I guess some of the world's biggest nuclear plants, because some of the brightest people around and they've got a supply chain and BW XT who can build the things? Why wouldn't you listen to them, that's why we came to Canada. So we listened, we listened to your energy minister, who is very interested in the export potential, and we listened to your Nuclear Safety Commission. And I didn't need the Safety Commission, who outlined to us the cooperative. I'm not saying endorsing, but they are at least have a process in place to enable the developer to build this in an orderly fashion, with an A, with a, a, a, an approvals process that will work.

So Canada has got a delivery model, you've got the same laws as Australia, the same federal structure as Australia, you've got the same kind of diverse population, the same cultural backgrounds, and the historic Commonwealth links, which I saw very strongly represented throughout Canada. And so it's not a David and Goliath thing here between Australia and Canada, you've got all of these discipline instruments, when I looked at what Ontario Power Generation do in terms of the refurbishment of those can do is in the way the approach, that's what Australia needs. So we can borrow that model. And Canada can profit from the exporting of components, as Australia gets up to speed with it. And we've got even the same language, it works very, very well. And so I'm very bullish on a continued dialogue and building strong export links between the two nations around this technology. But I mentioned the hybrid system, Korea is a very strong trading partner of Australia. They're in our timezone. The Koreans are actually a very outward going people. And they cross the globe, I work with them in Africa on a dam construction, you know, these are people who spread their feelers over the whole globe for a small nation, and they do it very well. And you'd be a fool not to take heed of their discipline, vertical integration. So one can do both. My gut feel says we should be planning right now for small modular reactors in Australia, tomorrow with Canada, and building on the links that we've got. And we took with us, a federal parliamentarian, Dr. David Gillespie, who is passionate about driving these sorts of links. And it was great to see the examples and the learnings that he got out of not only OPG, but CNSC, the energy minister and also importantly, G down in Wilmington. So it was a fabulous visit. And my mind is so clear on that kind of route for our nation. We'll be into it tomorrow.

Chris Keefer  1:08:22  

So before we go, you know, we had a really interesting conversation, again, focusing on on the constructability of various designs, you mentioned, you know, the AP 1000, using a lot less concrete and steel, you know, the Chinese pulled it off, I think it did take a bit longer than than their average reactors. But there's certain you know, there's there's a lot of differences between the designs that are out there. And I think, you know, I really try not to be partisan at all on the podcast. I really don't have any company representatives on to you know, don't do advertorials on Decouple but I do think that it's important that we develop the analytical tools to sort of sift through what are the qualities of good design, what's something that is constructible, and with your civil engineering experience, I'm interested in understanding your take on that. We were chatting a little bit about, you know, the x 300. And new scale some of the other the other ideas and from a sort of civil engineering perspective, because so much of the cost overruns of these projects seem to have a civil engineering origin. I was wondering if you could maybe make some comparisons. Again, I don't want to be sort of partisan or slinging mud at anybody but I do think there's some interesting principles and I'd love to hear again your perspective says as a civil engineer on on some of the I guess themes of what what makes a good design

Robert Parker  1:09:38  

Okay. From the construction sector, if we go down to some of the comparisons between these different small modular reactors. I have a concern if your reactor pressure if your reactor building is too large, or very, very large and you're going down below ground it have buildings that are over 100 meters long over 50 meters wide. Trouble me if you're going down 34 to 30 meters or so into the ground to build them. Because I've been down there in dam foundations. And I know the problems when you get deep, and you have got surcharged groundwater surcharge ground and you've got jointing, and you've got a whole plethora of issues. And then you got to backfill the damn thing. So there's a lot of complexity if your buildings A to B. And when I look at the cylindrical nature of the containment of the DJI product, and I'm sorry about the sound a bit, I probably am a bit biased in my regard, because I regard that as essentially a simple cylindrical structure. And I built things like that, you know, big pumping stations are built things like that I know what's involved, you know, in terms of building such a structure. So I can see clearly how that would evolve, I can see how the beauty of separating the nuclear island from the generator with the what they've got the integral isolation valves so that if you get a loss of cool next and innovate, you can immediately cut that, I think that's a great innovation, a lot of people, I would recommend listeners, perhaps look into these integral isolation valves, they're really quite an innovative way, where when the old pipes that are coming out of the reactor, if any of those should get a break? Well, you don't want to be worrying about them, if you've got a little valve that was jammed, shut passively and, and overcome that problem. So that's innovative. And the simple nature of the structure above ground, we're only building 300 megawatts, so is our turbine building an admin building suitably simple, and these, these are the simple executables. The other important thing is project finance, one of the reasons SMR has or people are keen on them, is the notion that you can build them quickly. Because project finance is at risk. And you can't be stuck in the ground for an ordinate period of time scratching yourself working out how to resolve problems. So initial site investigation, going to the nth degree to ensure you know exactly what you've got underground is vital, early planning is vital. And then you want to come out with all your equipment, properly allocated in a vertical integration of your supply chain, so that it's on the ship landed on the port, and then you can get stuck straight into it very simply to minimize the risk of, of interest flying out on your borrowings. And that's where you come back, that these these plants, these are ones I'm thinking of, again, the cost of the order of $2.4 billion, Australian, about 2 billion Canadian, that's the first few. And so that's a lot of money you've got at risk, but it's not so much money, that many utilities can't absorb that, when you go into 1015 17 20 billion. That's a big ask for a lot of utilities, but the gamble at around the $2 billion level, they can absorb them. So that's why I'm quite bullish on the small modular reactors, particularly if you have got a supply chain that's had a lot of experience. And that's why the Koreans went to Bechtel and Westinghouse back in, in the 70s, and built the first Pressurized Water Reactors, and went around said, who can build this for us? Who's done it before? Who's got the vertical supply chain in place? Yep, it worked first time, now we can indigenize it. And that's what the cranes did. And then they went on with their own industry building up on that initial learning base. And that I couldn't stress more highly, is what we need to be able to do in Australia is to build on someone else's learning.

Chris Keefer  1:14:15  

Well, listen, Robert, I mean, I could talk to you all day long. We've gone longer than the typical episode, and I'm tempted to carry on, I think we're just gonna have to have you come back for part two at some point. This has been very interesting, a smorgasbord. As I said, at the beginning of far ranging conversation, we've touched on, you know, political issues. We've touched on values. And we've touched on some very interesting pragmatic kind of engineering questions. I'd love to go into this in more depth. But for now, my friend, it's getting late here. I know it's early in Australia. It's such a challenge scheduling interviews with Australians. I'd love to have more on but you definitely made the cut. It was such a pleasure hosting you here in Ontario. I hope you're back soon. And I hope that our countries do work together. And that Ontario can share some Some of its nuclear expertise and advantage with Australia, I think there's a hopeful vision here. And a vision of moving back towards a productive economy that supports good good people, good jobs, adjust transmission, etc, move away from from that fire economy. And again, maybe physics will be that patron, that that stirs that relationship. I just I hope that it's not too painful of a journey back towards common sense. Robert, thanks again, for making the time and coming on a real pleasure. You know, I met Jose Gonzalez in Toronto today, the great Swedish, Argentinian musician, the podcast puts me in touch with just absolutely wonderful people around the world. And it was great to again, meet you in Toronto and a pleasure to have you on the podcast.

Robert Parker  1:15:49  

Thanks. Thanks, Chris. It was great to be there. And I'll just mention when I brought some toys and things back for my grandchildren, I brought dream catchers that were made by the Canadian people, First Nations people. And I hope those dream catches that I brought back from Canada will catch a dream that I've got for our union between Canada and Australia on the exam.

Chris Keefer  1:16:14  

I'm trying to come up with a good boomerang metaphor, because I've got the one here in my hand, but you you gave my son we went out to the park together and we really need to get out somewhere in the country because I gave it a throw in this thing is really a murder weapon. Was wasn't as familiar with the aerodynamics of lacking a kind of catchy metaphor, like you've just given us. But I'm sleep deprived after a night shift. I'll come up with something I'm sure to wake up in the middle of the night with a good boomerang joke. Robert, gotta let you go. Hard to do. And, you know, until we meet again, hopefully in person, but we'll have you back on the podcast soon.

Robert Parker  1:16:49  

Thank you, Chris.

All right.

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