The trillion-dollar renewable energy investment deficit no one is talking about
Marc Johnson

I don’t think we can ignore the role that nuclear energy can play. Fission can safely last us until fusion power becomes commercially available. There is certainly a price (risk and waste), but these are manageable. Other renewable energy sources are not without drawbacks of their own (especially cost/kWh).

Photovoltaic cells require mining of rare earth metals. Mining carries a great environmental impact, and depending on rare earth metals specifically currently means depending on China.

Heliostatic mirror farms heating molten salt that is used to generate steam to power turbines are a legitimate source of energy in sunny areas, and they are being constructed quite quickly. The molten salt is necessary to provide consistent power to the grid, including at night, and adds to the technical difficulty of construction of these sites.

Hydroelectric free-tidal turbines are being researched, but are not currently capable of withstanding the forces required of them. Even once they are feasible, they will only be so in certain areas with distinct geographic features. Other forms of hydroelectric power require massive amounts of concrete, and the cement required for this is a very carbon intensive product due to the natural gas used to fire cement.

Wind turbines are expensive for the power they output, and this is when sited at optimal locations, which are not ubiquitous. Concentration of wind farms at these sites serves their area and can be an expensive part of the solution, but transmission losses mean they can’t be the whole solution. Impact on birds and bats is real, but admittedly not significant when compared to greater challenges these creatures face, especially from domestic cats.

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