Originally posted by twhitehead
Why cant you do that with wind and solar?
Cost and time.
Wind and Solar make up 2.7% of worldwide electricity generation. [Geothermal doesn't even show up
on the chart, and hydrothermal emits methane and floods huge areas of land]
Solar panels are currently expensive and toxic and polluting to produce.
Wind turbines are made by a few specialists and would require a massive massive scaling
up in production.
Both require huge grid level energy storage... Which is both very expensive, and we don't
currently have a reliable cost effective technology to do energy storage on that kind of scale.
Both take up HUGE areas of land, requiring planning permission and local acceptance.
Wind farms screw with military and civilian air traffic radar.
France generates 80% of it's power in 50 buildings. It's power is cheaper than neighbouring Germany's
and they have half the per-capita CO2 emissions.
And bear in mind, worldwide energy use is growing rapidly.
If we want electric cars [either hydrogen fuel cell or battery] then we will have to generate the electrical
equivalent of all the energy used in cars today.
If we take the conservative estimate that worldwide energy generation will triple by 2100 then you are
looking at doubling the electricity generation required in ~40 years [or less].
In the years Germany has been pouring money into it's solar program, which after decades of investment
can on a bright midsummers day just about generate 1/2 their electricity demands, when demand is at it's
lowest and generation at a maximum... They could have built ~50 nuclear reactors and coupled with their
renewables have 100% green energy.
The UK has been investing heavily in wind generation for decades, and we manage a grand total of 9%
renewables ex-hydro electric. [of which 4.7% is wind, 2012 numbers]. And this is achieved with ~4,400
wind turbines in 397 wind farms around the country. We are looking to get the number to 20% with over 7000
turbines... It's not a given we are actually going to achieve that... Meanwhile we are making up the rest
with gas and coal generation.
As a contrast we make ~17.6% of our power from 14 Nuclear reactors on six sites.
So it would take ~60 nuclear power stations of equivalent size to generate the remaining ~80% after renewables.
We want green air travel, which requires that air travel finds a fuel that emits no CO2...
Biofuels take up huge amounts of land we need for growing food and for remaining wild habitat... Or, like hydrogen
they require energy input to make.
So green air travel will want to use [huge] amounts of electricity.
We want to stop burning fossil fuels in industry, so we need electric induction heaters or hydrogen production
to replace gas for firing our furnaces... more electricity use.
We want electric trains, electric cars... And we still individually use more and more electricity.
Green advocates keep saying "get more efficient, use less"... And they might as well be whistling into the wind.
The thing is, quality of life is related almost directly to energy consumption. There is a reason we use more and
more devices and energy... it's giving us what we want.
Nuclear can deliver that power without destroying the planet. And can do so for thousands of years, way long enough
to get Fusion working. Or big space installed solar generation, or whatever.
I'm sorry but nothing else PRACTICALLY can deliver that TODAY without inventing new technology.