Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure to rule out nuclear power in Australia, with the opposition saying it's too expensive and his predecessor calling it a "loopy" fad.
A parliamentary committee is looking at whether nuclear is a feasible, suitable and palatable solution for Australia's future energy needs.
But Labor wants the coalition to put its nuclear "fantasy" to bed, saying it's three times as costly as other options and wouldn't be up-and-running for decades.
"It is a distraction that will do nothing to solve the energy crisis that is confronting Australian households and businesses now," opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull hasn't helped the coalition's case, calling nuclear power a "loopy" fad and a distraction for Mr Morrison's backbenchers.
Australia's former leader expressed the view on Twitter, in a discussion about the coalition being in line to hit its 2020 renewable energy target.
"I am delighted the target has been met - but I never had any doubt it would be - the challenge now is making sure the storage/firming is in place to make the renewables reliable," he wrote on Thursday night.
He said ensuring such reliability will require "careful planning and provision".
But he stressed renewable energy has an edge over coal and "loopy" nuclear power.
"The bottom line is renewables + storage are cheaper than new coal let alone the loopy current fad of nuclear power which is the current weapon of mass distraction for the backbench."
Energy Minister Angus Taylor asked for the inquiry amid growing calls from coalition backbenchers for the option to be seriously examined.
Last Thursday, the committee was warned by Ziggy Switkowski - who led a Howard government review into the power source - that there was a real risk of "catastrophic failure" if Australia adopted nuclear energy.
Australian Associated Press