Question: What about nuclear fusion?

Question mark #2Apart from CCS, there is much good sense on all sides of the debate on measures to reduce carbon emissions. Why haven’t you mentioned the ultimate medium term opportunity – nuclear fusion?

Leighton Upton, 24 May 2009


We should pursue all options to stop using fossil fuels – but nuclear fusion is the exception. By 2040, the world economy can be entirely based on renewable energy: solar, wind, biomass/biogas, wave and tidal. We need bridging technologies to reduce emissions radically before then. Nuclear fission is a bridging technology – new power stations can be operating by 2020. CCS is proven at small scale and, if demonstrated to work at large scale, can also be a bridging technology.

Nuclear fusion can’t.

Ever since I’ve worked on energy issues, fusion has always been “20 years away”. It still is. Billions of pounds/dollars/Euros have been wasted trying to make it work. That money should be spent instead on building new, efficient grids (for example, to bring concentrated solar from the Sahara to Europe).

Stephen Tindale

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1 Comment

  1. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t direct any resources towards fusion research. Even if it takes 50 or 100 years to go from where we are now to commercial fusion power, the potential benefits would probably justify the research effort.

    That being said, fusion almost certainly won’t be a key technology for stabilizing climate in the medium-to-long term, though it could be an important energy option many decades from now.

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