It’s a simple fact: even though we’re heavily reliant on fossil fuels, it’s terrible for the environment. Not only does it spew harmful chemicals into the air, but it also takes a lot to mine and produces lots of waste.
For this reason, we’re looking more and more into cleaner energy sources, such as solar and nuclear power.
But when it comes to solar vs nuclear, which one is better? Read on to find out more about each type of power and which one’s better for the environment.
Pros and Cons of Solar Power
As the name implies, solar power is where you gather energy from the sun and convert it into usable energy. This is done through technologies like photovoltaics (those solar panels you see on houses), solar heating, and artificial photosynthesis.
This type of energy sounds great, which means it comes with a host of benefits. However, it also has its caveats. Keep reading to find out more about each.
Pros of Solar Power
One of the biggest perks of solar power is that it reduces your carbon footprint. By taking something that’s already being generated and harvesting it, you’re putting significantly less stress on the planet than with fossil fuels.
With fossil fuels, manpower and money must be put into locating, drilling, and mining things like coal. As you can imagine, this is a huge drain on our finite resources.
Solar power is also relatively easy and quick to set up. Just in a span of 6 years, the Solar Energy Industries Association completed 57 projects that were at least 100 megawatts, and have another 14 that are in the works.
Solar power is also quite cost-effective when you’re talking about utility-scale projects. When compared to nuclear power, it only takes a fraction of cash to get solar energy.
Cons of Solar Power
Despite being affordable for utility-scale projects, solar power can be quite expensive for residential purposes. This means that it can be out of many households’ reach to go from traditional power sources to solar. However, residents do have the option to work with a reputable solar company to get the best rates possible.
Also, because the energy harvested depends on the sun being out, you won’t be able to generate energy 24/7, especially if the solar panels are placed somewhere with less than ideal weather.
This also means that energy generation can be less dependable and stable. While you might get high output one year, you might get mediocre output another, for reasons out of your control.
Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is where you get energy through nuclear reactions that generate heat. Usually, steam turbines are used to do so, and the 3 methods available are nuclear fission, nuclear decay, and nuclear fusion.
Read on for the pros and cons of using this type of energy.
Pros of Nuclear Power
Like with solar energy, you’ll be able to drastically reduce your carbon footprint by diverting your energy needs to nuclear power instead of fossil fuel.
Nuclear power plants can basically function at full capacity all the time since all they need is fuel. In this case, it means you’ll get maximum output of energy for the entire time they consume fuel.
Also, because you don’t need to depend on outside factors (such as amount of sunlight), you can count on nuclear power to be very reliable. No matter what time of day or year it is, you’ll get a steady output of nuclear energy.
Cons of Nuclear Power
One of the biggest drawbacks to nuclear energy is that it takes a long time to build a reactor. This means that if a fast-growing population has an ever-increasing demand for energy, nuclear might not be enough to keep up.
For example, consider this: in the last 30 years, there has only been 1 nuclear power plant built to completion. There are 2 other ones under construction, but they’re already over budget and are nowhere near complete.
When compared to solar power, nuclear takes almost 8 times as long to build. Utility-scale solar projects take around 9 months to complete while nuclear projects take 69 months.
Not only does nuclear power take longer to build, but it’s also much more expensive. In general, it costs almost 10 times more to build a nuclear power plant than to take on a utility-scale solar project.
Nuclear power is also more dangerous than solar power. While solar power harvests something that comes naturally from the sun, nuclear power plants must use some dangerous chemicals like plutonium.
If protocols aren’t closely followed, huge disasters can happen. And the waste that comes from a nuclear power plant disaster can take years to take care of, if not decades.
Take, for example, the Chernobyl disaster. This disaster caused lots of deaths, had adverse health effects, and has taken decades to even get control of.
Needless to say, much care has to be taken when you use nuclear power.
Solar vs Nuclear: Which One’s Better?
In general, when it comes to the solar vs nuclear debate, solar’s the better option. Not only does it take less time to build, but it’s more scalable and applicable for widespread usage.
However, one thing’s clear: both solar and nuclear power are much better for the environment than our continued reliance on fossil fuels. If we want to clean up and conserve our beautiful planet, then more efforts must be made to push us away from this dependence. Adopting cleaner energy methods will certainly be beneficial!
If you enjoyed this article on solar power vs nuclear power, then keep learning by checking out the rest of our blog posts!