Ashbash wrote:I understand that nuclear power > coal usage.
My only problem is that it's still not a renewable resource and there's the issue of waste products. It seems that there is a high percentage of people on the fora who argue for nuclear power, heart and soul. I just want to know, why isn't solar power considered much? Or is it considered ineffiecient/expensive or something? Because for me, solar power is the way to go (at least once it becomes a bit more effecient and compact etc), and the only reason I'm not a strong advocate of nuclear is that solar energy is completely 'renewable' in the sense that once it is gone, so are we, and that you can have solar panels on everyone's house (but you can't have personal nuclear reactors etc)
The whole argument of "oh, but it's still a finite, non-renewable resource" is nonsense.
There's no such thing as "renewable" energy, if you try and use some literal, meaningful definition of "renewable". That's really nothing more than a restatement of the second law of thermodynamics.
Eventually, the hydrogen in the sun will run out. Eventually, the radiothermal heat inside the earth will decay, and eventually, all the free energy in the universe will be exhausted, and the universe will die.
Some physicists have estimated that the efficient use of uranium, plutonium and thorium - not ridiculous once-through fuel cycles - will provide an energy resource that will last for approximately the same length of time as the hydrogen in the sun. You don't get much more "renewable" than that.
Nuclear waste is not a substance - it's something that certain stupid governments do
, with stupid, grossly inefficient, once-through LEU fuel cycles in light water reactors, and no recycling of fuel.
If nuclear waste is such a problem, then stop wasting it!
Is solar power inefficient and expensive? Yes!
A typical nuclear power plant produces about 1 GW of power output, with a capacity factor of about 90%. (i.e. the average power output, averaged over a long period of time, is 90% of the name plate design power).
Now, think about the sheer number of solar collectors, and the sheer amount of area, needed to collect 1 GW of power from the sun. Now, you have to be able to store that energy, to be able to provide energy with a high capacity factor, say 90%, to make it comparable with nuclear power.
Since the solar energy reaching the Earth is intrinsically intermittent, you need lots of extra capacity, several times more, to give you the same amount of capacity, with any reasonable capacity factor.
When you consider how much it costs to deliver solar energy on this scale, it's frightful. It just doesn't scale up competitively.
You've got to compare one gigawatt-year per year of energy from apples to one gigawatt-year per year of energy from oranges. Only then do you see how these things truly compare.
As far as isolating radioactive waste from the environment over long time scales is concerned, it is, scientifically and technologically, a completely solved problem. We know how to do it.
Basically, we just do it the same way nature has been isolating nuclear reactor byproducts from the environment at Oklo for the last two billion years.