Usually, I see that advocates of nuclear do NOT like solar and vice versa. I’m all about promoting ALL forms of (unlimited) clean energy, as we can never be sure that just one will win out over the other. I am NOT in favor of conventional nuclear, however.
First, one only needs to do the numbers on solar to be convinced that it is the “best”, considering that sunlight provides thousands of times the amount of energy we use. Just 1% of the land covered by GaAs concentrated Fresnel arrays would power 10,000,000,000 people at near the western standard assuming efficiency improvements brought about by electric cars, led lighting and more insulation. Consider also that it MUST become a global priority to develop the advanced machine automation necessary to make such solar cheap enough to afford, and that there is no reason to even try to have us “inefficient humans” make it. GaAs or gallium arsenide is what NASA uses and the gallium is quite rare. That’s why it has to be concentrated (~1,000 suns) with Fresnel or other means. Recent manufacturing “ideas” reveal that it IS possible to make these kinds of cells for less than what NASA pays. http://www.physorg.com/news193557233.html. The downsides are the moving parts (for two way sun tracking) and possible concern over the small amounts of the poisonous arsenic needed.
Conventional solar panels would have to cover 2% of the land surface, in order to provide that same power to ten billion people. I’m kinda thinking these would convert too much ordinary sunlight into infrared (as the dark panels do get rather hot). However, non moving robustness and less parts point to an easier machine made possibility.
It is ultimately ESSENTIAL to have factories that can mass produce hundreds of thousands of square km of solar collection if we are to prevent the fall of Western civilization as we know it…
Unless we can come up with some other way of powering planetary civilizations (fossil fuels are obviously causing XSCO2 and are depleting at an ever increasing rate).
Wind power is capable of doing the job, just barely. And the rest of the renewables don’t even come close. However, not to dismiss biofuels and such for individual use! Added together, they might be able to pan out. But why? Why should we place hope in a whole bunch of little, expensive (and thus remaining trivial) options when it would be wise to focus on ironing out the ones with the best potential, which is solar and wind? When it comes to biofuels and such, I believe they are just another 3rd political party.
The only other option at this time is nuclear. Even though France is mostly powered by conventional water cooled reactors, the US actually relies on MORE nuclear (about 450,000 GWh to some 800,000 GWh respectively) as roughly graphed here… http://sabolscience.blogspot.com/2011/03/japans-nuclear-power-vs-united-states.html Yet this nuclear has got to be the worst kind. It only fissions a small percent of uranium, requires high pressures, is thus prone to meltdown and leaves a heap of radiotoxic wastes which takes thousands of years, just to decay back down to almost acceptable levels. The only upside (besides less XSCO2) is that the light water reactor (LWR) and its kind have been thoroughly developed, and possibly, that its wastes will NOT be buried, but instead, be used to start up an entirely different kind of reactor… the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR). Here’s some links…
Our collective clean energy future depends on you to become involved!