I’m a little slow but I finally noticed this Op-Ed in the Age by Dr Matthew Hole on fusion power. Matt was in my year at Uni, and despite a brief diversion to Engineering eventually found his way back to physics.
Anyway the piece is very upbeat about the future of fusion power and how it should be included in the government’s inquiry into nuclear energy. Fusion power is a big one as far as energy goes, it really could offer the sort of vast quantities of power that would cure our reliance of fossil fuels. One day.
Now while I wouldn’t want to discourage research into fusion power and Australia really should be getting on board in this research, but practically we are looking at 15 years minimum before we (we being some other country!) can hope to have a protoype fusion power station. ITER, which they describe as pre-protoype, won’t be completed construction until 2012 and it will be several years until they are getting the full use out of it after that. Then we can think about building a prototype fusion reactor, should all go well. This is all being optimistic.
Fusion is promising, but really its 20 years off and we shouldn’t be basing our hopes on it as far as any current plans go, when we could have fission power and renewables sooner.