Nuclear is probably best considered a potentially useful bridge technology but not a long term solution with very finite known supplies of suitable Uranium ore and, from an American perspective, a ticket to continued dependence on foreign fuel supplies given the worldwide distribution of known reserves. Anyone that thinks fission power is the economically viable future should be investing in plants themselves rather than bemoaning the lack of government subsidies to build them. I'd rather see tax monies spent on clean technologies that won't guarantee continued American dependence on imported fuel. That's just asking for trouble.
Nuclear is a good longterm solution. Uranium reserves at current prices are good for about 100 years. Double the price of uranium and you increase the reserves about 10 times. That 100/1000 years if using lightwater reactors and current technology. Breeders were proven already in the 1950'ties and they can give 50 times more energy per kg of uranium used. Then the cost of uranium is a non issue, so you can extract it from seawater if you want. Add to that the reserves of thorium and the fuel supplies are virtually unlimited.
One of the biggest exporters of uranium today is Canada, so it would hardly be difficult to import it to the US. Another big exporter is Australia and these are countries you hardly need to worry about. Uranium is also easy to store, I would suspect that USA use something like 20000 tons uranium each year for electricity production, that's not more than 2000 m^2 if stored in ceramic form (less than that in metallic form). In other words, it's easy to put ten years worth of fuel in storage somewhere if you want. Plus, you can extract something like 25% more energy by reprocessing already used fuel. That is decades worth of fuel.
Does anyone know why solar is so impractical? In small scale you can power a home relatively cheaply.
To me it seems the cleanest form of power generation for electricity. With no nasty side effects apart from getting rid of degenerated solar panels. And in large scale surely that could be largely averted. Nuclear has major side effects though is clean in generation. Wind is too expensive and unreliable and will never be more than back up mainstream and a LOT of people hate the look and sound of the things. And normally the cost of transmission seems to be expensive.
Most LCA's seem to agree that in terms of emissions, nuclear, hydro and wind are cleanest. Usually the two first are a little cleaner than the latter but the difference is small and not really significant. Hydropowerplants are usually already built where possible, so they are usually not that interresting to look at for future power generation. They produce electrcity very cheap though, probably around 10 euro per MWh. Existing nuclear powerplants produce electricity for around 15-20 euro per MWh and new plants for around 25-30 euro per MWh. Land based wind cost around 45 euro per MWh, seabased wind around 65 euro per MWh. Biomass and solar are both more expensive, but I don't have any good figures for solar. But expect in excess of 100 euro/MWh. At the time of writing the system price for electricity on Nordpool was 47 euro/MWh, but that is rather high. 30-40 euro/MWh is more normal, and at such prices it's understandable that you can't make money on non hydro renewables without some sort of financial assistance.
Loss of life expectancy numbers are similar for nuclear, hydro and wind; all very low. So are the external costs. Coal and other fossil fuels typically have high external costs and the loss of life expectancy numbers are usually high (effect of CO2 is normally excluded).
Solar suffer from the same problem as wind, the power output is intermittent and not controllable.
Solar, wind, hydro, nuclear are all very capital intensive power production methods. Fossil fuels are much less capital intensive, and the return on investment is much shorter. Hydropower has a very long life, often in excess of 100 years, and as a result it is a very longterm investment. Nuclear powerplants usually have a expected life of 60 years, even 80 years have been investigated. As such also those investments are very longterm. As a result of that you typically want long supply contracts for electricity before you start building such a plant.
Among solar technologies solar thermal is probably the most promising. Solar thermal use mirrors to heat of a working fluid, then a heat engine is used to convert the heat into electricity. This technology offer a higher efficiency than photovoltaics, lower production costs and heat energy can be stored in salts for 24/7 electricity production with controllable output.