Experts weigh in on Fusion Energy

There have been many news articles, especially lately, about fusion! Here are some of the highlights:

The National Academy of Engineering lists fusion energy as the #2 Grand challenge for the next century. Excerpts:

Ultimately, of course, fusion’s success as an energy provider will depend on whether the challenges to building generating plants and operating them safely and reliably can be met in a way that makes the cost of fusion electricity economically competitive. The good news is that the first round of challenges are clearly defined, and motivations for meeting them are strong, as fusion fuels offer the irresistible combination of abundant supply with minimum environmental consequences.

Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox think fusion is the problem they hope scientists have solved by the end of the century.  Excerpts:

What problem do you hope scientists will have solved by the end of the century?
SH: Nuclear fusion. It would provide an inexhaustible supply of energy without pollution or global warming.

BC: I share that view, that the provision of clean energy is of overwhelming importance. What frustrates me is that we know how to do it as physicists, how it works. It is an engineering solution that is within our grasp. I don’t understand why we don’t seem to want it enough at the moment. As a society, do you think we invest enough in scientific education and research?

SH: I don’t think we invest enough. They are why we are not still in the Middle Ages. Many badly needed goals, like fusion and cancer cure, would be achieved much sooner if we invested more.

BC: I think the most important practical problem, which may be more of an engineering challenge than a scientific one, is to build economically viable nuclear fusion power stations. If we haven’t dealt with our world’s increasing appetite for energy by the end of this century, I think we will be in very deep trouble indeed.

The Internation Energy Agency describes the promise and challenges of fusion energy. Excerpts:

Fusion is arguably one of the major research challenges of the 21st Century. Fusion is an option to provide environmentally benign energy for the future without depleting natural resources for next generations.

The American Security Project explains why fusion is necessary for America’s future. Excerpts:

During the last 30 years, researchers around the world have made great andgenerally unrecognized progress toward achieving controlled fusion energy. This is the energy created by forcing atomic nuclei together and for which theprimary fuel is derived from ordinary water. Fusion power is safe, and clean, and whencommercialized, will solve the world’s energy problems

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