The great thing about wind and solar is that you don't have to build a whole farm. You can start small and keep adding as you come across more capital.
In any case I don't see why one needs to make it a dichotomy. The entities who invest in alternative energy are probably not the same ones who could invest in a nuclear power plant because of the above mentioned startup costs.
It's not clear to me whether fission will come back any time soon but wind and solar will keep gaining in market share.
The economics are pushing towards renewables but I feel that nuclear makes more sense for our society in the near-term (we need to get away from coal and other fossil fuels).
The reservoir can provide about 13 GW·h of stored gravitational potential energy (convertible to electricity at about 80% efficiency), or about 2% of China's daily electricity consumption. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianhuangping_Pumped_Storage_P...
Construction cost: $900 million USD maintenance costs are also minimal.
PS: ~14 GWh for 1 billion ~= 14 MWh for 1 million = ~14 kwh for 1000$. http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall = 7 kWh for 3k or 2.3kwh per 1,000$ and much shorter lifetime.
With tesla solution the problem is going to be limited amount of lithium. There is maybe enough lithium to get a powerwall to every household in U.S. and EU. But rest of the world is fucked.
Granted, this would be a significant retrofit, but it's significantly cheaper than starting from scratch. And, assuming the net daily change is ~0 it's not going you don't lose existing power generation capacity or add significant environmental impact.
Also, you don't need very many. China can shift ~2% of it's daily power needs with just one location. Get into the 10-15% range and your done.
Currently though, complaining about storage has a cart before the horse aspect. Since for the immediate future photo voltaic plants are competing with gas fired peaking plants not nuclear or coal fired base load plants. (If you ever wonder why the Koch brothers really don't like Solar plants it's because solar cuts into the market for natural gas)
The Banqiao Reservoir dam failure alone killed over 170,000 people and made over 11 million homeless.
I worry far more about the hundreds of millions of people living downstream of the Three Gorges Dam than I do about people living near fission plants.
On net Dams have saved far more than 170,000 lives in china alone. Flood control is more or less a necessity in the modern world adding energy generation on top of that is a minimal risk. ex: From 1998 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_China_floods loss of 4150 people, and 180 million people were affected.
PS: Direct deaths where ~26,000 people. The 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine which where blamed on the dam, but that was a convenient excuse and far from the root cause.
Even with lot's of flood control floods still kill some people. But, dams prevent many floods, reduce severity, and generally give significant warning time when there not going to be enough. So, most deaths are from small rivers that feed major ones instead of major rivers overflowing.
Without them, things would be far worse.
People saw Chernobyl and said "none of that in my backyard" and successfully managed to write rules so onerous that they're effectively a ban.
Unfortunately, any plans they had for a solar power revolution in the 70s died when the technology turned out to be outrageously expensive and impractical, and we've been stuck burning coal waiting for the technology to catch up. 40 years of filling the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses because of one spectacular failure halfway around the world and one scare in our own country.
Another irony is the fact that all of our current reactors are old designs and less safe than new ones would be if we were allowed to build them.
Of course all of the political pressure has also killed our waste management plan as well, so everybody has to make due with less safe ad-hoc setups on every site.
Example. One of the problems that have occurred is that the regulations change during construction. You spend a billion dollars on construction and then the regulations change and you have to start over. The simple change that the construction rules a plant is evaluated under are the ones in effect when construction began would solve half the problem in itself.
Compared to fossil fuels, which has been successfully lobbied to be under-regulated, you'll stark differences. If fossil had to even approach the same safety/environmental rigour of nuclear, fossil fuel market share would drop quickly.
This ignores various risk cases associated with building a plant that drive the return on capital further up.
Source: used to value these types of investments professionally.
What I found on UPower indicated that it's a nuclear thermal battery, I love that technology but they aren't legal and wont be because of widespread concerns about terrorism and radioactive contamination.
Also, my educational background is in engineering and I have worked on determining whether it's financially feasible to build power plants for a living. I would really love it if you could provide some evidence for your arguments.