Since the turn of the century, solar power has experienced almost a 50% growth in usage in the U.S. Its similarly sustainable energy source, nuclear power, has been in the game for decades.
But the question remains – which one is the best source of renewable energy?
When comparing nuclear power vs solar power, it’s important to consider their strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we’ll be looking at their pros and cons to determine which is the best carbon-free energy resource.
What Is Solar Power?
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into energy, namely electricity.
There are a few different methods of harnessing solar power. Photovoltaics is probably the most common method. You generate electricity directly from the sun using semiconductors to conduct an electronic process.
You can also use solar heating and cooling or concentrating solar power to generate heat from the sun or run turbines. There are home solar companies on top of industrial and commercial ones in the U.S.
What Is Nuclear Power?
Nuclear power releases nuclear energy to generate heat, which then powers turbines to produce electricity. Nuclear plants either use nuclear fusion, fission, or decay to create this effect.
Nuclear power has much lower fatalities per unit when compared to other energy resource industries, such as coal or petroleum. Relative to those industries, it’s seen as the best source of renewable energy by many.
Nuclear Power vs Solar Power
It’s clear that nuclear power and solar power are both efficient and sustainable sources of energy, but the nuclear power vs solar power question still stands – which is better?
Let’s try to find an answer to the nuclear vs solar debate by exploring three categories: cost of production, time of production, and overall energy output.
When constructing a solar power plant and a nuclear one, the former is usually going to be a lot cheaper than the latter.
The costs for a solar power plant hover around $1 million per 1 MW of energy produced. This is much cheaper when you look at nuclear power plants and their construction costs.
Some estimates for generating 1 MW of power at a nuclear power plant hovers around $6 million, far exceeding that of solar plants. As such, nuclear power plants have a disadvantage in operating costs.
Another important factor is how long it takes to build each plant.
Building a solar power plant takes a fraction of the time it takes to build a nuclear plant. To put this into perspective, there are currently 61 nuclear power plants in the U.S., with the first one being built in 1969.
On the other hand, over 2,500 solar power plants exist in the U.S. This indicates that the time it takes to build solar plants is significantly shorter due to the sheer volume at which solar plants are being built.
Even when a nuclear power plant is not operating a full capacity throughout a year, it still produces about 4 million MWh, this is why nuclear power plants typically opt to find a catalytic heater to get energy from, these heaters are very effective because they rely on a platinum catalyst to speed up the rate of the reaction.
Leverage the Best Power Source for You
Putting nuclear power vs solar power together reveals that there are clear drawbacks and benefits for both. At the end of the day, they’re both sustainable and reliable sources of energy to power homes and commercial areas alike.
Use this article to figure out which one is the right fit for your needs. For more information on environmentally-friendly initiatives, check out the rest of our site!