Back when nuclear energy was first introduced, the media took the new idea and turned it into this magical thing that would solve all of the world’s problems before the year 2000. But the industry hadn’t been around long enough to have enough experience building the reactors, and had yet to perfect the efficiency of them. So the ensuing disappointment shouldn’t have been a surprise when all of those promises from the media didn’t come true.
Now we are looking at a very similar picture with wind and solar. Here’s a video about powering the US with 100% solar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2IVTM0N2SE. It looks good at first glance. But they don’t talk about the amount of water it would take to keep these clean for optimal efficiency, or the amount of energy lost sending it throughout the US, or the people that would be needed to maintain all of that, or the storage of all of the broken panels full of toxic chemicals, and the list goes on.
The point is that solar/wind as we know it is still young and working out the kinks. Just like nuclear was, now it’s ready to build things that have addressed all of the problems people had with it. Since they’re both clean energy sources, we can continue to have wind and solar where they’re best suited and at scales that make sense. Plus, there isn’t enough silver to power the world 100% by solar anyways, which is talked about here(article 6).
We want to see the world powered by clean energy sources, read: NO carbon or emissions otherwise once the facility is built. We have a carbon build cost comparison here. But to make that happen, we need to set realistic expectations for everyone. By 2035 or even 2050, no single clean energy source would feasibly be able to power the grid on its own. Working together, that is much more possible though.
We are all fighting to make the world cleaner, healthier, and last longer. It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change or not. The worst case of going to clean energy from fossil fuels is cleaner air and water. Not really a bad thing. Sure wind and solar cost a bit more than fossil fuel, nuclear is on par with natural gas for the most part, but that difference is constantly being lowered by improving technology.
So we can do it if we work together… alone we can’t.
Partanen, Rauli, and Janne M. Korhonen. “Optimism is no Guarantee of Success” Climate Gamble: Is Anti-nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future? Finland: Rauli Partanen & Janne A. Korhonen, 2015. N. pag. Print.