2 Comments

  • Sounds like fusion power might be only 20 years away.

  • No it’s not.

    Forget ever even getting to parity, or the 10x above break even you need for a commercial, large-scale plant. Let’s just say we magically have achieved all that and can do it reliably and make a power plant from it. let’s say the overall goal has been accomplished.

    Economics and complexity will *still* ensure it never gets out of the lab.

    The technology and materials and manufacturing tolerances necessary to sustain fusion are *always* going to be expensive. You’re trying to do a really, really difficult thing – magnetically contain a plasma 10x hotter than the sun, with walls that can withstand tons of neutron flux, while harvesting heat from it. Continuously, without stopping, for weeks or preferably years at a time.

    It’s a great theoretical source of energy. But it doesn’t offer us anything fission doesn’t already – except potentially more abundant fuel. But fuel abundance isn’t what’s holding fission back currently. Fuel fabrication only represents about 20% of the cost of generation, if that. If you doubled the price of Uranium, the average cost per KWH of nuclear would increase by about a penny. And that’s with using a system under 1% fuel efficient, when designs for 95%+ efficiency have already been prototyped.

    Fusion doesn’t offer the solution to any problem we currently have. It’s really cool – and it will have great use some day in space travel due to the unparalleled fuel density.

    But it’s never going to be economical. Not in any time-span under 100 years or so. We just have much easier, more viable options.

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