Bill Gates is pragmatically advocating for nuclear energy generation, and has been for more than a decade. The man founded the most valuable company in the world. Maybe he knows a thing or two. Nevertheless, we're seeing the usual dig-in positions from irrational environmentalists resurface. Data to the rescue!
Turns out, renewables aren't that safe. Who knew mounting heavy glass fixtures on rooftops could end badly? Or that the gearboxes in wind turbines are called 'meat grinders' by the professionals that interact with them?
Nuclear [90 deaths/PWh] is at least 50% safer than wind [150 deaths/PWh], and 500% safer [440 deaths/PWh] than solar. Only hydro is remotely competitive when using this metric, and pretty much everywhere that is geologically capable of harnessing said physics is already doing so.
Also, on a positive (albiet left field) note: turns out even if the worst were again to transpire (Chernobyl like event), the result would be a biodiversity bonanza. On the scale of 'bad things that can happen to an ecological area', nuclear fallout is LESS BAD than 'humans decide to want to live there'.
- Waste disposal is a solved problem
- Safety is better than any competing technology
- Unaffected by availability of wind, rain, sun etc (provides true baseload; the current answer to renewable's intermittent availability is batteries... batteries everywhere)
- No greenhouse output, and arguably ecologically better than PV which requires invasive excavation for rare earth primatives (okay sure, the vast majority of panels now use crystalline silicon, but that hurts too, just less)
So, why is fission still the black sheep? NIMBY. That is: you, dear reader. Non-thinkers who collectively decided around 40 years ago that it was a bad idea to live anywhere near a structure that provides enormous amounts of consistent clean energy, and have subsequently refused to revisit that decision, ever, thankyou.
There's only two good reasons to continue to boycott modern fission:
- The idea of taking a lethal dose of something you cannot hear, feel, smell, taste or see (radiation) is legitimately unnerving, despite its infintesimally small likelyhood. Unfortunately we live in a democracy, so this carries weight.
- The same financial and human capital required to build and maintain nuclear facilities could [or in your words, 'should'] in theory be directed instead to the production of energy storage (batteries) combined with voluminous deployment of intermittent generators (wind, solar, tidal etc), to produce a similar outcome without the stigma.
Use both of those arguements, if you're of the RENEWABLES OR RIOT ilk, rather than your grandpa's talking points.