Where we show mathematically that solar farms east of the Mississippi should be banned in favor of nuclear
My one-sentence takeaway might be this:
The lifecycle of solar power uses ~60 times more land than nuclear power per MWh, and it's far greener (literally) to build 1 acre of nuclear plant amid 59 acres of forest than to raze 60 acres of forest for a solar farm.
Of course, all the worries about nuclear safety may be better founded than it's polite to admit - there's a reason why the white South Africans dismantled their nuclear weapons program, and I recommend reading through the Wiki page on one of the remaining civilian nuclear plants in the country - it's not pretty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koeberg_Nuclear_Power_Station
As atoms don't cause nuclear incidents by themselves, concerns about 'nuclear safety' as such are in fact euphemistically phrased concerns about the competence of plant operation, faith in which, especially in the coming generations, may be stronger than is prudent.
That is to say, there are bigger concerns at play than verdancy.
If anyone is putting solar over anything other than roofs, condemned toxic waste sites, arid sand, lawns, parking lots, golf courses, or football fields, they should stop immediately. Every single family home can provide enough energy with panels. Why we would prefer centralized farms over dispersed privately owned solar is beyond me.
The argument here is definitely straw man. But only because of the idiocy of governments and greedy “green” companies building the straw man for you.
Outside of vast wasteland settings, Solar is best served by topping existing human structures with it. The space is already taken up, and maybe it can be strategically placed to provide shade in parking lots and such as well. Now these aren't the solar mirror farms, but less impressive photovoltaics, but since we failed to go all-in on nuclear 30 years ago like we damn well should have, we'll be facing the possibility of a lot more spot outages as demand exceeds supply, so anything to round that out and maybe lower overall energy cost without affecting our footprint might be worth looking into.
One option: siting east-of-Mississippi solar farms on "brownfields" projects, especially those with infrastructure already at the site? (Works for nuclear, too, in places with access to sufficient cooling water.)
Yes, there may not be very many such sites. And some may not have sufficient space to house large solar farms. Yet still one *potential* exception to "banned outright"?
I reject the argument that even a Nevada Moonscape is an acceptable site for a solar farm just because solar makes greenies happy, since they insist that the Skittering Moonbat or whatever will be endangered if the fragile desert habitat is disturbed. If they won't let anything else be built there, they can't have their damned solar plants either. Nuclear now!
There are many other prices that also need to be considered. Nuclear power is very ECONOMICALLY inefficient https://www.cato.org/working-paper/nuclear-power-context-climate-change
Mowing down natural forest habitat to install a solar farm is a crime against logic and the environment. Solar panels belong on rooftops and parking lots. Its not suited for so-called "utility scale" installations. Why force a square peg into a round hole? Just optimize for the technology. It's not hard.
I'm sorry your job is enabling this lunacy. It must be soul-crushing. If you're looking for a change, we need stormwater engineers here in Pinellas County, Florida. Its challenging (flat, lots of rain and overbuilt impermeable infrastructure) and the people are good.
Assuming CO2 warms the planet (it doesn't), everything you list is completely rational and reasonable.
But this isn't about saving the planet, or preserving the environment, or rationality, or reasonableness.
They want you dead.
Excellent essay, it really brings home the scale of the problem we are talking about, and the nature of the tradeoffs.
If any alternatives to petroleum were economically viable, they would have become popular a long time ago and would not need subsidies to prop them up.
My hope is that nuclear fusion will be harnessed for energy production, but a nuclear physicist I met informed me that most in his field have said (half jokingly) that commercial fusion reactors will ALWAYS be 30 years in the future.
Alcatraz Island is 22 acres.
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant faculties themselves takes up about 12 acres although the property itself owned by the utility is far larger. 2256 MW of power at roughly 90% capacity factor.
City and County of San Francisco is just shy of 30,000 acres.
Copper Mountain Solar Facility occupies 4,000 acres. 802 MW, 30% capacity factor.
Alta Wind Energy Center (birds aren't real!) occupies 32,000 acres. 1550 MW with a 24% capacity factor
Can someone convince me not to be worried about radioactive waste that lasts hundreds of generations?