Saturday, 5 November 2011
For over 50 years researchers have been struggling to make the dream of relatively clean, nuclear fusion energy generation a reality. It has been a long and uphill struggle and at times the chances of succeeding seemed low: there were just too many technical problems to overcome. At long last there are some hopeful signs that the technological breakthroughs are almost there. Even if sustained nuclear fusion is achieved soon in research environments, it will be many years before this translates into commercial scale nuclear fusion plants. Nonetheless I am very hopeful that within my lifetime we may see the first nuclear fusion test reactors built and commercial reactors in place within 30-40 years. The changes to the world's energy situation as a result of this will be immense: raw materials needed are plentiful and inexpensive, radioactive waste will be negligible and immense amounts of low cost energy should be possible. Let us hope that we all invest in the research and commercialisation of nuclear fusion rather than waste resources on trying to extract the last fossil fuels from the ground.