Today another earthquake hit Japan. This time it was “just” a 6.8 on the richter scale and didn’t cause a tsunami. However at what risk would the Japanese or California coast be should another earthquake hit of sufficient magnitude, as is predicted to occur by most pundits, during our lifetime?
The question always comes back to what is the true subsidy of any power source. Whereas solar’s subsidies are mostly “above the line” (save for the industry subsidies to help create job employment), the ones for nuclear are never properly counted. Did anyone add the “cost per watt” of cleanup in Japan to how efficient they rate the development and distribution of nuclear power?
While its very present of mind right now, due to last year’s events, what tends to happen is that memories are short. In a few years of relative calm, we’ll get a “now you see it was a one-time event”. Really? Three Mile Island? Chernobyl? One time events?
The cost to humanity of placing nuclear in high risk areas is simply too much. Put the reactors in the desert where no human can be affected (relatively) for hundreds of miles, and you could make a case for it. Put nuclear in high risk areas, and then add in the costs of maintenance and cleanup, not to mention human lives, before you determine the final financial costs, then see if it competes with solar. I doubt it.
So while many point to the current challenges of the solar industry, under tremendous price pressures, I believe solar will continue to grow substantially in the near and long term, because the “tide” is not reversible. Its safe, clean, renewable…and now affordable. What else can you ask for?