Nuclear fusion can solve our energy and environmental problems • Troy Media
Nuclear fusion has long been a science fiction fantasy, the holy grail of energy production. But that is fast approaching reality.
The process involves combining multiple atomic nuclei to generate energy, much like the sun does. It is the opposite of nuclear fission, in which atoms are split apart.
Canadian and British innovators are bringing this incredible technology to life, and in doing so, could unite the warring factions of climate alarmists and climate skeptics.
Fusion energy production requires less fuel than fission and this fuel is inexpensive. It is a sustainable, long-term energy source, and the nuclear waste seen with typical nuclear fission power plants is not replicated with fusion power plants.
This technology offers an opportunity to finally stop building wind turbines in all natural sites and solar panels in countries that just don’t see as much sun.
And it could offer welcome relief to international climate alarmism and Extinction Rebellion extremism.
Nuclear fission today produces about 10% of the world’s energy. According to EUROfusion, a group of research organizations in European Union states, fusion reaction plants could provide about 10% more global energy needs. Over time, this number could increase significantly.
After decades of experimentation, including breakthroughs in 2014 that saw scientists generate more energy than they used to create the reaction, researchers believe the technology is ready for prime time. .
This summer, scientists in Los Angeles revealed how lasers as large as three football fields were used to generate huge amounts of energy from nuclear fusion reactions. Some 200 laser beams were focused on a point to create a burst of energy eight times larger than any experiment in the past.
The United Kingdom – newly independent of the European Union – and Canada are leading the way in embracing fusion and preparing for this energy source of the future.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) launched a call for proposals for new sites for a prototype fusion plant in December 2020, and Oxfordshire was selected this year. The plant will be used to prove the viability of a project by the Canadian energy company General Fusion.
The plant and companion campus are expected to be completed in 2025 at an estimated cost of US$400 million. This is a significant investment, but significantly less than that €ITER project of 20 billion which shows several years of delay.
The Canadian innovators plan to use mechanical pressure to contain the gigantic amount of heat and plasma generated during the smelting process, rather than the huge electromagnets that other factories will likely experiment with. Mechanical pistons will press the fuel from all sides, creating intense pressure that generates heat.
It could be a huge economic boost for the UK and Canada. Not only do nuclear fusion experiments create jobs – with research centers in 26 countries, including the US, UK, Korea and Japan – but these plants provide long-term opportunities.
Far beyond the possibility of uniting climate skeptics and environmental activists around energy efficiency, nuclear fusion power plants could generate thousands, if not millions of jobs worldwide – from management and the maintenance of these power plants to the logistics of fuel and waste and to the manufacture of the power plants themselves.
This is the kind of win-win scenario the world needs and another great example of how well an independent Britain can cooperate with Canada. It’s greener, cheaper, more efficient and could generate a large number of jobs. These are goals behind which climate alarmists and skeptics can surely unite as the world shifts from fossil fuels to “green” technology that clearly is not ready.
However, whether nuclear fusion technology can unite factions in government, politics and society depends on whether environmental activists are genuinely willing to admit that solar and wind power are simply not ready for prime time and that nuclear technology – even with its historical baggage – is the right solution.
The rejection of such potential by politicians or activists who influence politicians could come down to green activists’ willingness to perpetually protest.
Jack Buckby is a research associate at the Frontier Center for Public Policy.
Jack is a thought leader for Troy Media. For interview requests, click here.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the sole responsibility of the authors. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.
© Troy Media
Troy Media is an editorial content provider for news outlets and its own hosted community media across Canada.