Dr. David Mills, founder and chief scientist of solar thermal leader Ausra, was generous enough with his time to help me with the chapter on concentrated solar power in my upcoming book on renewables. I happened to be watching this lecture he gave recently in his homeland (Australia) which I heartily recommend. It is entirely non-technical and accessible to anyone, while providing a worthy history of renewable energy – as well as a solid, well-reasoned direction for the future.
In it, he speaks about the safety and overall viability of nuclear energy, and provides essentially the same one that I always do: we already have a huge fusion reactor with an endless supply of fuel, no problems with operational safety, no million-year hazard associated with storing spent fuel, and no open invitations for terrorists or rogue states to attack, or use the technology to build bombs. It’s called the sun. Best of all, it’s separated from the Earth’s surface by a distance of 93 million miles – which is perfect; it’s far enough away to be safe, while close enough to provide us with more than enough clear power — insofar as we need to harvest only one out of every 6000 photons that is received at the Earth’s surface in order to address all the needs of all 7 billion of us.
This may sound like a flippant answer, but I don’t believe it to be. The cost of reaping this power is coming down every month. If we retain our focus on perfecting a few technologies for capturing that energy; we’ll be there very shortly. I urge readers to learn about solar thermal; I know you’ll share in my optimism.