I'm curious about this statement
What are the cleaner and cheaper alternatives? Seriously - I'm cautiously pro-nuclear, but I try to keep an open mind, but I can't see anything else that has the generation potential with such ease.
The options as I see them are thus:
Wind - expensive, not reliable, can't be used for baseload. Only works in certain conditions. Changes the weather downwind of the site, requires enormous amounts of space.
Solar - panels are a nightmare to manufacture, the energy budget in creating them is huge to the extend that 1m² of high-quality polycrystalline panels has a whole-life breakeven after 14 years, and require enormous amounts of space. Extensive maintenance requirements.
Geothermal - has potential, but widescale applications would require a lot of wells to be sunk, and deep, which would be expensive. There is also the concern about the amount of hot steam released into the atmosphere through cooling having climate effects surely? Would be ideal for baseload otherwise.
Tidal - has potential, but again expensive. Needs development to arrive at best solution. Long-term environmental effects from restraining free water flow around the world could be a problem (you're taking energy out of a system).
Hydro (pumped storage or otherwise) - Proven technology, and allows to come online at periods of high power. Not really a long-term solution without significant inflow into reservoir. High expenditure in terms of both budget for construction, and required land-take.
Nuclear - proven technology. High capital expenditure in both commissioning and decommissioning, but when you amortise cost per kWh over life then much more reasonable. Relatively low carbon power. Issue with long-term storage of waste, but correct infrastructure can 'burn' waste to reduce toxicity. Safety issues (ref Chernobyl et al), but number of directly-attributable deaths still probably much much less than from coal mining / oil drilling etc. Newer reactors much much safer than 30-year old ones in Japan.
Fossil fuels - proven technology. Well developed, but not as efficient. Creates massive amounts of CO2, and even worse when considering CO2e. Coal (both in mining and burning) release significant quantities of radiation into the atmosphere.
For my way of thinking, nuclear to provide a significant proportion of base load, with other 'sustainable' options providing back-up, with wind available but used to top-up pumped storage for high demand periods would be the best balance. Excess energy (ie overnight base load) could be used to crack hydrogen from seawater or create hydrocarbons for transport etc.
I fully expect to get heavily downvoted for this, so let the flaming commence. It just bothers me when people from ALL sides of the argument can't see that the only way we can realistically achieve what we have said we will is by significant efficiency improvements and a good, balanced mix of supply sources.
It's either that, or we all go back to the Dark Ages.