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Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise — RenewEconomy

A limitless, clean source of baseload power might be within reach – without the nuclear waste of traditional fission nuclear plants. That’s good, right? Not quite. The post Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise — RenewEconomy
I  first heard the standard joke about fusion as an undergraduate physics
student in the 1960s: Fusion power is 50 years away – and probably always
will be. More than 50 years later, we still don’t have fusion. That’s
because of the huge experimental challenges in recreating a miniature sun
on earth. Still, real progress is being made.

This month, UK fusion
researchers managed to double previous records of producing energy. Last
year, American scientists came close to ignition, the tantalising moment
where fusion puts more energy out than it needs to start the reaction. And
small, fast-moving fusion startups are making progress using different
techniques. A limitless, clean source of baseload power might be within
reach – without the nuclear waste of traditional fission nuclear plants.

That’s good, right? Not quite. While we’re closer than ever to making
commercial fusion viable, this new power source simply won’t get here in
time to do the heavy lifting of decarbonisation. We are racing the clock to
limit damage from climate change. Luckily, we already have the technologies
we need to decarbonise.

On the megaproject front, the next step is the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in
southern France. Far too big for any one country, this is a joint effort by
countries including USA, Russia, China, the UK and EU member countries. The
project is enormous, with a vessel ten times the size of the UK reactor and
around 5,000 technical experts, scientists and engineers working on it.
Famously, the project’s largest magnet is strong enough to lift an
aircraft carrier.

Even this enormous project is only expected to produce
slightly more power than it uses – around 500 megawatts. The first
experiments are expected by 2025. To me, this illustrates how far away
commercial fusion really is. Renew Economy 25th Feb 2022https://reneweconomy.com.au/limitless-power-arriving-too-late-why-fusion-wont-help-us-decarbonise/


February 26, 2022 - Posted by | France, technology

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