Centralized electricity production using fossil fuels is a reliable way of generating power. You put fuel in, combust, and you get electrical energy out. We use the same method in our transportation, although that is starting to be contested by all major automotive companies transitioning to electric vehicles. If this trend continues then we could theoretically have 100% renewable electrical power but we would also be heavily dependent on the cyclic and variable changes in nature. For example we can't get solar power during the night or when it's overcast and we can't get wind power during mild weather (conversely can't use it during storms as it can break). We can't transport this energy across large distances as transmission loss is a major deterrent. So it needs to be "stored" relatively locally somehow for use later on. There are renewable solutions to achieve this, the conventional ones being hydroelectric pumps, flywheels, and batteries. These are all expensive solutions and have their own issues regarding ecological impacts. For instance, hydroelectric dams are usually situated on natural rivers and lakes and can negatively impact wildlife. Flywheels have very limited storage capacity and high efficiency batteries require rare earth metals that are difficult to obtain and are often toxic. Let us also not forget that there's a manufacturing cost and more importantly, disposal costs associated with the renewable generators - photovoltaic disposal being the most prominent pollutant. In addition to this, managing a large number of renewable sources in an electrical grid is also difficult, which I'm sure many fine engineers battle as we speak. Therefore I must ask, are we on the right path if ecological conservation and energy security are the ultimate aims? Aren't we simply shifting the problem by destroying the environment in a different way and making ourselves dependent on highly variable weather patterns rather than using steady fuel?
Perhaps green energy is a reactionary solution to the fears associated with nuclear power. The disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima being prominent cases. However if CO2 and air pollution are indeed the most important goals to tackle in man-made "climate change", then as far as centralized clean energy goes, nuclear electric power generation technology is actually quite environmentally friendly. The only truly environmentally harmful components are the radioactive waste products. But then again, aren't the toxic components in renewable solutions also disastrous if they're not disposed of properly? The meltdowns that occurred in the famous nuclear reactors we're told are due to old equipment and because they were operated by improperly trained personnel. These are issues that can be mitigated as long as proper design and inspections are carried out, as they should be in all large sensitive facilities. There are also different kinds of nuclear power generation technologies and they can't be all clumped together as being "dangerous". Perhaps with further focus we can achieve the most super-green nuclear option that would minimize or even eliminate nuclear waste altogether. Therefore I'm very skeptical of the rhetoric that nuclear is not "green" (ironic btw. that artists frequently put a glowing green hue on anything radioactive) and at the same time casually brush aside the environmentally destructive elements and processes involved in other "green" solutions. Hence I must conclude that current forms of green energy are in fact not green at all and we're only going to run into other environmental and supply problems later on. Safe nuclear power needs to be the answer to centralized electricity generation.
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