When comparing solar energy to nuclear energy it is efficient to look at the issue of how much energy you are getting from it. In other terms, one must look at a cost-benefit analysis of each kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the construction and production costs. When considering nuclear the time-scale is rather lengthy since one must add the decommission costs into the equation.
construction + production + Decomm. = Total cost/kWh
When calculated at this rate one will find that nuclear costs are significantly larger than the costs of building renewable energy facilities like solar energy, but the benefit is the almost unlimited amount of energy that you can get from nuclear power.
Also to consider is the land use between solar and nuclear. The amount of land you would need to cover with solar panels to create the amount of energy required, or in comparison to nuclear, you will find that areas simply don’t have the space to build thousands of solar panels but have enough land to build a nuclear facility. That’s a point for nuclear.
However, a point against nuclear that a lot of environmentalists enjoy is the idea of waste. A solar panel can be repaired, reconditioned and parts recycled into other products. A nuclear facility cannot and the spent nuclear fuel rods are seen as waste unless it’s reprocessed (which the United States doesn’t completely but France does!). However the case, the spent fuel rods are now kept at the nuclear site awaiting disposal, which is Yucca Mountain, however the deadline for full operation has been pushed further and further into the future. Until operation the spent rods are just piling up on nuclear sites with a long half-life and no place else to store them because of a lack of secure toxic waste sites.
Something else to consider when comparing nuclear energy to solar is the idea of safety. There have been two nuclear meltdowns in the past and the idea of nuclear power essentials being made into bombs and those getting into the wrong hands can cause trouble for the entire planet.
It is interesting to note that solar energy is produced from the nuclear fusion reaction occuring in the Sun, which fuses two Hydrogen atoms together to create Helium. Of course, this is all occuring 150 million kilometers away.
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