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The opposition to the continuing existence of a largely fossil-fuel based economy can be loosely divided into two key groups: The first propagate that a reliance on coal, oil and gas should be replaced with the exploitation of renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biomass; The second group support the growth of atomic energy, and envision a future society where hydrocarbon power plants are replaced by nuclear alternatives. It is frequently asserted, by members of both groups, that the two approaches are incompatible with each other – that we are faced with an either-or decision. We can either take the ‘nuclear option’, or go for an entirely renewable energy future. I personally believe that both positions are false. The evidence that I have seen leads me to the conclusion that nuclear and renewables can not only work well together, but an energy solution including elements of both would be more economical and have a higher chance of success than relying on one source of energy alone.
Let’s start by looking at some of the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear and renewable energy.