This year saw unprecedented investment in renewable energy projects, with more than US$500 billion invested worldwide. The most profitable (and dangerous) industry in the world saw its stock rise by 23% in 2019. The reason? People want to be part of the green economy, and they’re willing to pay more for sustainability.
The global solar market grew by 23% in 2019, with more than 440 million photovoltaic panel installations. This makes solar the fastest-growing electric sector, and it outstrips every other industry in terms of installations. There are multiple advantages to solar energy, but the most profitable one is undoubtedly cost-effectiveness. With solar, you not only get energy, you get electricity that you can sell.
However, with high solar electricity prices, some people (especially those in developing countries) are now benefiting less than they would from traditional power sources. This has given rise to the question: Is solar energy really the better choice for the planet?
Here, we explore the pros and cons of this wonderful yet dangerous source of energy.
The good news is that solar energy is a source of clean power that doesn’t put our planet in any danger. The bad news is that it is also incredibly expensive and, in some cases, still isn’t available where you live. Let’s explore each of these points in more detail.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels are the most common and affordable type of solar panels, and they are also the most efficient. A full solar system with PV panels can generate enough electricity for an average home for about a year. This means that you not only save money on your power bills but also avoid putting a strain on the environment through energy consumption.
The downside is that the cost of a full PV system can be high. Depending on the energy you need, you can get a good quality system for under $10,000. However, if you want to generate more power (and you can always upgrade your system later), you’ll have to spend more. In some cases, the cost of a full PV system is more than a decent laptop computer. For some, it’s cheaper to buy a power generator.
On the other hand, nuclear power is a sustainable source of energy that can be generated from virtually any country. Nukes also provide baseload power, which means that you don’t have to have electricity available when you need it. This is a major advantage for those who rely on renewable energy sources such as solar. However, it’s only available in certain parts of the world, so you’ll have to travel to a country with a nuclear power plant if you want to use this energy source. Just a minor inconvenience compared to paying high electricity bills every month!
The good thing is that new technologies are making nukes more efficient, and thanks to the advancements in renewable energy, we’re now seeing more and more power plants switching to sustainable energy sources. For example, the UK government is investing heavily in new nuclear power plants, with 13 under construction and more on the way. This means that we’ll hopefully see more power plants switch to solar in the future. As of now, solar energy is still more expensive than nuclear power but it’s becoming a more attractive option.
You might be wondering what to do with all that waste material generated by nuclear power. The short answer is: Store it properly for 50 years and hope for the best. The long answer is: There’s no real solution yet, but there are a few ideas being considered. If you want to look into this further, the websites EDF and Techopedia are a good starting point.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Nuclear power is incredibly polluting. Even though most nuclear power plants are highly efficient, they still generate a whole lot of radioactive waste that has to be carefully stored away. It’s also worth noting that some nuclear power plants have a much higher pollution rate than others. You’ll have to do some research to find out which types are the most polluting.
The good thing is that technology is evolving to make nuclear power safer and more efficient. For example, small modular reactors (SMRs) are being developed as an alternative to meet the demand for baseload power. SMRs use less enriched uranium and they’re also more efficient, resulting in less pollution. Unfortunately, not all countries are supportive of nuclear power, and these projects can take many years to build. The wait is far from over, but it’s definitely worth it.
Nuclear energy is undoubtedly a sustainable option for generating power. Just consider the amount of fuel required to power a nuclear reactor. The amount of fuel burned is relatively small in comparison to the amount of energy produced (and in some cases, it’s less than the amount needed to power a typical household appliance).
This means that, in terms of ecological impact, you’ll have less of an impact from using nuclear energy than you would from using other sources of power. In fact, some observers have gone as far as calling nuclear energy the greenest form of energy. Of course, this depends on how eco-friendly your definition of green energy is. Suffice to say that, as of now, nuclear energy is a promising and cost-effective option for powering our world.
One important factor to consider is how much energy you need. If you need a lot of energy, it might be best to go the traditional route and invest in a large power generator. For those who need a little less energy, solar might be a better option. It’s always nice to have more than one option available.
The bottom line is that we need to invest in new technologies and sources of power to avoid environmental harm. As long as there is a demand for energy and power, there will always be a need for alternative energy sources. Luckily, the solutions are available, and you can’t say that about nuclear power. At least, not yet.