I was trying to figure out what could possibly be the reason for maintaining a nuclear plant.
Lets take Fukushima. It generates 4.7 GWe which is a lot of electricity, so initially I thought, OK, you get all that energy from 6 reactors that don’t take all that much space, means you can cram a lot more than you would by, say solar panels.
I mean you need some 3000 square meters of space for a 100KWp solar panel installation. If you want to add solar tracking you need more space so lets be generous and say we need an acre (4046 square meters) for 100KWp.
To get to the 4.7 GW produced by Fukushima we would then need an area of approximately 1880 acres (that’s ~76 million meters) - bare with me, I know full well that comparing the power plant output with the nominal power measurements of PV panels is a stretch so this is just a mental exercise to provide scale.
Fukushima occupies 865 acres of land! That is 3500000 (three and a half million square meters) which if covered by solar tracking PV would theoretically generate 116MW.
To be more realistic let us take a real world PV installation. Koeching II is a 5.6 MW installation on an area of 15 hectares (that’s 150000 square meters, some 37 acres). For the area of Fukushima that would give us 130MW.
OK, you need a looot more space to generate the electricity with solar panels. But that is with the current underfunded and ignored state of technology.
Now imagine the 20 mile evacuation radius (aproximately 3200 square kilometers) around the Fukushima plant with solar panels and windmills. Imagine how much more effective PV technology would be if all the money we spent to “take care” of nuclear waste (never mind the money that go into operating and inspecting nuclear power plants) went into research and development of renewable energy sources.
Keep that picture in mind as you realize that the alternative might have just created another no-go zone on this planet.