Fusion Power

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.


4 Responses to Fusion Power

  1. Sacha says:

    Hey Steve, if fusion can get off the ground and be affordable, I’m very hopeful on the energy and environmental fronts.

    I wonder what the effect of having extremely cheap, abundant and non-polluting (effectively unlimited) electricity would be, if that were to come to pass?

  2. Steve says:

    I reckon that its going to be 20 years before we can use it to generate power commerically, and then another 20 years before it is really cost competitive with say current nuclear technology. Basically I doubt we will be able to afford it as a major power source in my lifetime, but I’m not that short sighted! I do think it is likely to provide most of our energy needs in 100 years time, and probably pretty cheaply then.

    I have no idea what a world with abundance electricity and minimial hydrocarbon buring would be like. Traffic noise would be reduced!

  3. Sacha says:

    Ah Steve, imagine if it happens, at some stage, (eg 2050) fusion reactors are common and supply a lot of the world’s electricity. How different it is to imagine such a world, and how different it will be to remember the current reliance on carbon!

  4. Sacha says:

    Perhaps I should have written, “imagine how different such a world would be, and how it will be to remember how different it was when it relied on carbon based fuels”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: