An open letter to all Environmentalists,
“Renewable” energy sources are awful. So many people rave over how “good they are for the environment”, or that they are “cheaper and more efficient”. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case, Renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric do massive damage to the environment and have the poorest efficiency ratings of all available power sources.
One of the most agreed upon power sources is hydroelectric, it makes use of a natural process and doesn’t require any dangerous chemicals or pollutants. However, there are a few significant problems. First, it is incredibly expensive. Costing billions of dollars to install, it will take many years to recoup the initial cost. Secondly, the production of power is completely dependent on the volume of water available at the time, once rainfall drops below a certain point, the plant is essentially useless. Finally, It damages the ecosystem, aside from the inconsistent water flow that makes it hard for local populations to sustain themselves. Some fish such as salmon swim upstream for miles to reproduce, hydroelectric dams block their path and damage their population, as we continue to build dams, we irrevocably damage their population.
Wind turbines are even worse than hydroelectric dams. Costing from around 1.3 to 2.2 million per piece, they are incredibly expensive to produce. Not only that, just like hydroelectric, energy production is completely reliant on the environment, it may produce its max output, or not produce anything for days. Finally, it also damages the ecosystem, the EPA estimates that wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds per year and have greatly contributed to the decline of endangered species.
Perhaps the most popular of all the renewable sources are solar. However, it is by far the most damaging to the environment. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity using a phenomenon called the photovoltaic effect. Unfortunately, the method to produce these “photovoltaic cells” involves the use of several incredibly toxic chemicals including Cadmium Telluride which leads to lung fibrosis and death, while Copper Indium Selenide can lead to lung cancer. Cadmium Indium Gallium Diselenide can cause pulmonary edema. lastly, Silicon Tetrachloride is incredibly toxic to plants and animals. Furthermore, in countries like China where we mass produce these cells, there are little to no laws on how they dispose of these chemicals, leading to massive damage to the environment.
Not only that, solar plants have many of the same problems as the other two sources I have mentioned, their power production is entirely based on the environment, they can only produce power while the sun is out, and any adverse weather conditions can also affect their output. Additionally, large solar farms use massive mirrors to direct more light into the panels, when birds fly near these farms, they are set alight, leading to the industry term of “Streakers” as they fall to the ground as fireballs.
Finally, since solar power is inconsistent, it requires a way to store the power for use during the night or cloudy weather. This typically takes the form of massive lithium battery banks. These power banks use chemicals far more dangerous than solar panels and are incredibly expensive to produce, leading to even more damage.
So what is a viable option? Despite what you have been lead to believe, nuclear plants are far more efficient and safe than any other power source by a significant margin. Fission power is actually incredibly simple, we take several fuel rods filled with uranium, then we immerse them in water and hit it with a neutron beam. The beam breaks apart the atoms and causes them to release even more neutrons that split even more atoms, then the process continues. The process is incredibly exothermic and the heat it produces is used to boil water and turn massive steam turbines. Meanwhile, we can control the reaction by adding boron control rods that can absorb the neutrons, then by inserting or removing them we can either slow down or speed up the rate of fission.
But how efficient is nuclear really? Nuclear power is about eight thousand times more efficient than traditional fossil fuels and produces little to no carbon emissions, much less than any other source renewable or not. Not only that, but nuclear produces around 1000 watts per square meter, by comparison, wind produces about 0.25 watts per square meter and solar 150.
Lastly, everyone seems to be concerned about safety. Nuclear power has killed fewer people than so many other sources. For example, just the installation of solar panels causes more than sixteen times the deaths of nuclear. Another common concern is this disposal of nuclear waste, while the concern seems valid at first glance, it is simply unfounded. Though we used to store nuclear material in barrels underground, in recent years we have adopted a technique used by glassmakers for decades. This is called vitrification, vitrification is a process used to add chemicals to glass to change its properties, you probably have a product of this in your pocket right now, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is used in most modern smartphone, it incredibly thin and stronger than any other type of glass, by adding other chemicals to standard borosilicate glass they can completely change its properties to suit their needs. The same process can be used on nuclear waste, by turning the used fuel rods in glass, we can both reduce its volume, and make it safer to store all together.
To sum everything up, if we invest in current renewable sources, we will get nowhere. Nuclear power is truly that way forward, it's efficient, safe, and has so much potential for our future. In fact, in the next decade, we expect to have the world's first Fusion reactor up and running, unlike fission that involves taking heavier elements and breaking them down. Fusion involves taking an isotope of hydrogen known as deuterium and fusing them together into heavier elements. The main benefit of this process is that deuterium can be harvested from seawater.this means that in the future nuclear will be a completely renewable energy source with nearly unlimited potential, paving the way forward to a truly green future.
An Open Letter to All Environmentalists
An open letter to all Environmentalists,