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Tanya , Almost there! Dec, 03 2016

Germany is about to come up with a Nuclear FUSION reactor. Can it be economical and practical?


What happens to the rest of Clean Energy Startups?

Nothing has ever been attempted on the scale of Iter. The world record for fusion power – 16MW - was set in 1997 at the JET reactor in the UK. The longest fusion run – six minutes and 30 seconds – was achieved at France’s Tore Supra in 2003. Iter is aiming for 500MW and 50-minute runs

The site is a cathedral to the fusion dream: it spans the equivalent of 60 football fields and the reactor building will weigh 320,000 tonnes, all resting on rubber bearings in case of an unlikely, but not impossible, earthquake. The reactor itself will weigh 23,000 tonnes, three times more than the Eiffel Tower. It is the most complex engineering project in history.

What happens to the rest of Clean Energy Startups?Nothing has ever been attempted on the scale of Iter. The world record for fusion power – 16MW - was set in 1997 at the JET reactor in the UK. The longest fusion run – six minutes and 30 seconds – was achieved at France’s Tore Supra in 2003. Iter is aiming for 500MW and 50-minute runs The site is a cathedral to the fusion dream: it spans the equivalent of 60 football fields and the reactor building will weigh 320,000 tonnes, all resting on rubber bearings in case of an unlikely, but not impossible, earthquake. The reactor itself will weigh 23,000 tonnes, three times more than the Eiffel Tower. It is the most complex engineering project in history.

Vijay Arur , Dec, 03 2016


I would prefer to rely on that fusion reactor located 150 million kilometres away. It cost nothing to design and build, costs nothing to operate, repair and service, doesn't send energy bills, doesn't keep jacking up its prices to keep its shareholders and executives happy, will keep providing free energy for another 5 billion years or so to every place on the Earth's surface. Why the hell don't we concentrate on making full use of that fusion reactor first before spending a gazillion dollars building, operating and maintaining a machine that might last 50 years if we are lucky?

I would prefer to rely on that fusion reactor located 150 million kilometres away. It cost nothing to design and build, costs nothing to operate, repair and service, doesn't send energy bills, doesn't keep jacking up its prices to keep its shareholders and executives happy, will keep providing free


Mayank , Dec, 03 2016


For fundamental and immutable reasons nuclear power treads much more lightly than any other options. And nuclear fission is nearly as good as nuclear fusion. So we had better get on with that too. Energy R&D spend needs to proceed over a spectrum of time frames for expected results. Fusion obviously is towards the longer end, advanced Gen IV fission power is intermediate. Not proceeding on major pathways to cater for archaic ideologies would be criminally stupid. The climate stakes are very high and those that claim they have all the answers already deserve nothing other than derision.

For fundamental and immutable reasons nuclear power treads much more lightly than any other options. And nuclear fission is nearly as good as nuclear fusion. So we had better get on with that too. Energy R&D spend needs to proceed over a spectrum of time frames for expected results. Fusion obviously


Pranay , Dec, 03 2016


The answer is to progress Fusion research and deploy renewables. We know that renewables work now and are effective. We hope that in the future, fusion will be better again. But we dont know when, or even if it will ever be better, and how much it will cost to get there.
If we add renewables now and get practical fusion success in the future, we will be glad we have the renewables so we do not have as big a panic build programme for the new, difficult and expensive tech. If we build renewables now and never get to a practical fusion generator, then we have not bet everything on a mirage. Along with renewables, we need to add nuclear now too, just not under ham fisted market arrangements such as HPC that are simultaneously expensive for the consumer and high risk to the provider.

The answer is to progress Fusion research and deploy renewables. We know that renewables work now and are effective. We hope that in the future, fusion will be better again. But we dont know when, or even if it will ever be better, and how much it will cost to get there. If we add renewables now a


Shalini , Dec, 03 2016


Agreed but my worry about fusion is that if it ever comes near being feasible it will be parasitised - even if it could actually produce clean cheap energy then the large industries who can actually manufacture the parts would all price their parts so that the end result would be only-slightly cheaper than whatever else is around at the time. With wind at the moment you could put a ~0.5 to 2kW generator on every property in the country that would produce power at >2p/KWh if you mass produced them. The problem is you need to invest to mass produce them and if two companies do it then the profit margin drops and its better to have the money in competing energy company shares. The current government wont do it. The same should go for solar but the start-up costs are quite a bit more there but it should be possible to build a float-glass type approach to PV manufacture that works out cheaper than roof sheets or tiles. These would effectively generate free electricity.

Agreed but my worry about fusion is that if it ever comes near being feasible it will be parasitised - even if it could actually produce clean cheap energy then the large industries who can actually manufacture the parts would all price their parts so that the end result would be only-slightly cheap


Inderjit , Dec, 03 2016


Both China , India and others are investigating the possibility of thorium based reactors, possibly because they have access to a fair amount of potential fuel. It is probably an easier problem to solve than fusion and might be resolved sooner and at less cost. However, whilst cleaner than current fission technologies, thorium still leaves byproducts - albeit with much shorter half life and unsuitable for nuclear weaponry.

Both China , India and others are investigating the possibility of thorium based reactors, possibly because they have access to a fair amount of potential fuel. It is probably an easier problem to solve than fusion and might be resolved sooner and at less cost. However, whilst cleaner than current f


Bhimesh , Dec, 03 2016


Unfortunately renewables are not capital intensive enough to attract corporations, who are the guys governments like to do business with.