While Labor has put the focus back on gas, the Coalition is holding on to its nuclear ambitions. 

The Albanese government has committed to gas as a keystone for Australia's energy and export sectors into 2050 and beyond, while Nationals leader David Littleproud is pushing forward with a plan to introduce nuclear energy as a gradual transition from coal. 

The Opposition says it has identified potential sites for up to six nuclear plants, but has given no further details. 

The announcement has sparked criticism for its lack of detail, particularly from Australia's chief science agency, which remains sceptical of the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of such a move, describing nuclear reactors as “the highest cost option for reducing emissions”. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Dr Fatih Birol has urged Australian politicians to focus on the country's “untapped potential in solar and win”" rather than pursuing new nuclear projects. 

In a recent interview, Birol expressed his hope that the conversation around nuclear energy would become “more factual, less emotional and political”.

He said Australia should leverage its vast renewable energy resources, which are among the most abundant and cost-effective in the world.

However, opposition climate change and energy spokesperson, Ted O’Brien, argues that after comprehensive assessments, the Coalition has concluded that “there is no credible pathway to reaching net zero by 2050 while keeping the lights on and prices down without zero-emissions nuclear energy”. 

Recent figures from the federal energy department suggest that the Coalition's nuclear plan could cost upwards of $387 billion. 

A report by CSIRO’s GenCost highlighted the comparative costs of energy, showing that while a theoretical small modular reactor built in 2030 is estimated to cost between $382 and $636 per MWh, solar and wind could range from $91 to $130 per MWh, inclusive of integration costs.

The debate extends beyond economic metrics and into the realm of political and public opinion. 

While the Coalition prepares to propose nuclear power plants at the sites of retiring coal plants to leverage existing transmission infrastructure and reduce costs, voices from across the political spectrum weigh in. 

Climate change minister Chris Bowen and several independents, including ACT senator David Pocock, have criticised the nuclear focus as out of step with both economic reality and environmental necessity.

The debate is likely to intensify if more details of the Coalition’s nuclear policy emerge.