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Nuclear fusion is an energy mirage, and these are the reasons why .

Welsh councils warned over experimental nuclear fusion reactor plans May 2021  Two Welsh local authorities that are considering bids to host a nuclear fusion reactor have been warned of concerns about the proposals being put forward by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

In recent weeks, councillors from the Vale of Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire County Council have shown public interest in potentially putting a site forward to host an experimental fusion reactor.

The UKAEA has been provided with £200 million of initial funding from the UK Government to create a plant that will harness electricity from fusion and has written to councils suggesting ‘billions’ of pounds will be invested in the project with an aim to help deliver nuclear fusion within the next 30 years.

Fusion technology is still in its infancy and no fusion reactor has ever created more power than it consumes. But scientists say it could be cleaner and safer than fission, the nuclear technology currently used to generate electricity.

Nuclear Free Local Authorities, a body that seeks to increase local accountability over national nuclear policy and identify the impact of national nuclear policy on local communities, has written to both councils highlighting the experimental nature of the project and warning of the environmental and economic consequences of the project.

The conclusions of the NFLA briefing provided to the councils include:

Nuclear fusion, like nuclear fission, still produces significant quantities of radioactive waste.

Radioactive tritium emissions would be released as part of the fusion process into the environment.

A large water source for cooling would be required.It costs huge sums of money that the public exchequer cannot afford after this pandemic.

Any local jobs are a long way off. The target is to have a demonstration plant developed around 2040, so any local construction jobs would not take place for at least 15 years.

As with fission, in operation, the number of jobs working on such a reactor would be small and highly specialist. Those jobs that come will likely be from staff at the existing site in Oxfordshire moving to the new plant.

The site requires a large footprint, with over 100 hectares being requested by the UKAEA. This takes away a large amount of land that could be used for other useful activity, such as developing new renewable energy technology, energy storage or smart energy endeavours.

  • Given the technology will also not make any energy (if at all) till the late 2040s, it will provide the local council or the country with no low carbon benefit in the next two decades, when tackling the climate emergency is required now.

“I can understand why the Vale of Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire Council is considering putting an interest in hosting a nuclear fusion reactor, as any call at present which dangles the prospect of money and jobs will interest any council in these difficult economic times,” NFLA Welsh Forum Chair, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said.

“However, nuclear fusion is an energy mirage. For seven decades it has been worked upon, and it still remains a distant prospect that fusion will ever be developed successfully. The climate emergency though needs to be sorted out now, not in some distant future.

Councils should be given support to develop their critical work in mitigating it, not having their time wasted on a project that could well be a white elephant. I call on councillors to not express an interest in these proposals and call instead for more central government support to them in developing decentralised energy.”


May 15, 2021 - Posted by | technology, UK

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