Difference Between Solar Energy and Nuclear Energy

One of the most common ways in generating electricity is finding its source from either nature or making our way to it. In that case, solar energy is from the sun and nuclear energy is from the atom’s nucleus followed by nuclear reactions. Although neither emits pollutant gases nor other greenhouse gases directly, both are pollution-free.

Solar Energy vs Nuclear Energy 

The main difference between Solar Energy and Nuclear Energy is that solar energy, which is both natural and renewable, in contrast to Nuclear Energy, which is a man-made and non-renewable resource. Sunlight provides solar energy, while Nuclear reactors break uranium atoms to produce nuclear energy. 

Solar Energy vs Nuclear Energy

Solar energy is a renewable resource that is widely used as a type of energy to generate electricity and heat. Accordingly, it doesn’t produce any type of pollution, it follows a clean and carbon-free approach, an eco-friendly resource, which only helps the environment, and doesn’t cause any toxicity to nature. 

The energy released by an atom’s nucleus following nuclear reactions(either nuclear fission or nuclear fusion) is termed Nuclear energy. Fission is the process of separating a Uranium atom into two or more daughter nuclei to release nuclear energy. On the other hand, nuclear energy can be released by fusion, where two nuclei are combined. 

Comparison Table Between Solar Energy and Nuclear Energy

Parameters of Comparison Solar Energy Nuclear Energy 
Definition The light and heat coming from the natural sun, which help to provide energy-required processes.  An atom’s nucleus, or core, generates an enormous amount of nuclear energy.  
Origin It is generated directly from the natural source, the Sun. It is created by bombarding Uranium atoms. It is generated by Nuclear Reactors. 
AdvantagesCost-effective, reliable,  renewable, pollution-free, adaptable, efficient, and economical. Generates a large amount of energy, reliable, low cost of operation, zero carbon emission, and prospective. 
DisadvantagesHigh initial cost, requires large space, no solar power at night, low energy conversion rate.  Environmental impact, water-intensive, risk of nuclear accidents, radioactive waste. 
UseGenerate electricity and heat for buildings and cooking. It generates electricity which can be used for powerhouses, schools, and hospitals. 

What is Solar Energy?

It is the radiant bright light from the sun that is used by certain technologies, such as solar panels, in order to convert it from heat energy to electricity. It is one of the essential renewable energies that could generate heat and electricity efficiently. Physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel’s discovery of the PV (PhotoVoltaic) effect in 1839 led to the discovery of solar energy as well. 

Following this, heat rays are concentrated as a fluid, which in turn creates steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity. Moreover, solar energy is an eco-friendly resource, which only helps the environment, and doesn’t cause any toxicity to nature. Having that said, it doesn’t produce any type of pollution, it is clean and a carbon-free approach.

On the other hand, there are five types of solar energy that are classified based on the mode of conversion and type of energy, namely, passive solar energy, active solar energy, solar thermal energy, photovoltaic solar power, concentrating solar power. Solar energy is the best way to save money and store since it is highly reliable energy.

However, speaking of which, its efficiency during cloudy and winter days is the least. In addition to that, due to installments of solar panels, it requires much larger space and initial expenditure.  

What is Nuclear Energy?

Atomic physics plays a crucial role in the subject of nuclear energy. Since it involves the presence of an atom, the amount of energy coming out of it is massive. In that case, the energy released by nuclear reactions by either nuclear fission or nuclear fusion is termed Nuclear energy. 

To be more relatable, it is produced at nuclear powerhouses, where Uranium atoms are either bombarded or combined to release the required energy. The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was created by Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist in 1942. Since then, nuclear energy has been a run-of-the-mill procedure to supply electricity for generations. 

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of nuclear energy, namely, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Both types are illustrious at providing a great amount of energy. Besides producing a wide range of electricity, it also plays a significant role in space exploration, the medical field, agriculture, and many more. 

Over and above, nuclear energy is considered one of the most low-carbon energy sources, with the release of a huge amount of energy. Plus, it is reliable, cost-effective, supports national security, prospective plans, and many more. However, it also has a downside in the case of harming the environment, causing accidents, nuclear waste, and relatively expensive to manufacture the raw materials. 

Main Differences Between Solar Energy and Nuclear Energy

  1. Solar energy is a natural resource whereas Nuclear energy is man-made by nuclear reactors. 
  2. Solar Energy is a renewable resource, while Nuclear energy is a non-renewable resource. 
  3. Moreover, Nuclear energy requires a lot of money for maintenance, infrastructure, and highly qualified faculty, whereas, solar energy requires only the implementation of solar panels.
  4. The production of energy is more by nuclear energy than by solar energy.
  5. Nuclear energy can be released now and then, while solar energy is actively released during the daytime alone. 
  6. Nuclear energy is suitable for large-scale generation, while Solar energy is for small-scale local generation. 
  7. Nuclear energy relies on uranium and solar energy depends upon the natural brightest star, Sun. 

Conclusion

Solar energy, as well as Nuclear energy, play a major role in every household since they are the resources for powering our homes. Solar energy is a renewable and natural process that requires only the installment of solar panels, in order to observe the sun’s rays and thereby generate heat and electricity. 

On the contrary, Nuclear energy is quite a big and overly critical process, due to the involvement of the nucleus of an atom. It is a man-made and non-renewable resource, which can in turn bring in harm as well as benefits. Nevertheless, it has become a transformative initiative in terms of producing electricity. 

References

  1. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1977STIA…7733445M/abstract
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359645412007987
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Editorial Staff at Ask Any Difference is a team of experts in the field of "Difference Between" topics and led by Sandeep Bhandari, Piyush Yadav and Chara Yadav. Trusted by over 1.5 million readers worldwide
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