Both solar energy and nuclear energy face significant economic challenges. Sustainable energy costs have traditionally been greater than any of those associated with the growth of fossil fuel power generation, although the costs of renewable energy technologies (especially photovoltaic) have dropped. Furthermore, capital costs remain a big challenge in the nuclear generation. In many nations, the cost of building small nuclear power plants is quite large due to time, technology, and environmental and safety challenges for consumers. Such problems might not be as big for state-owned corporations or controlled industries for which utilities have quick access to cheap resources, and this partially explains why the interest for nuclear reactors in Asia is far greater than in the United States or Europe. Learning could help decrease costs for both types of technologies, but the track record for learning-by-doing in the nuclear sector is not good.
Part of the book: Nuclear Power Plants
Nanotechnology can help to address the existing efficiency hurdles and greatly increase the generation and storage of solar energy. A variety of physical processes have been established at the nanoscale that can improve the processing and transmission of solar energy. The application of nanotechnology in solar cells has opened the path to the development of a new generation of high-performance products. When competition for clean energy options is growing, a variety of potential approaches have been discussed in order to expand the prospects. New principles have been explored in the area of solar cell generation, multi-generation, spectrum modulation, thermo-photoelectric cells, hot carrier, the middle band, and many other techniques. Nanoparticles and nanostructures have been shown to enhance the absorption of light, increase the conversion of light to energy, and have improved thermal storage and transport.
Part of the book: Nanotechnology and the Environment