A NEW briefing from the Global Warming Policy Foundation argues that nuclear fusion is unlikely to be a decarbonisation saviour, at least not in the short to medium term.
The author, retired nuclear researcher John Carr, explains that the technical hurdles to be overcome are still considerable: ‘There is a litany of technical difficulties, from degradation of materials due to radiation damage, to lack of tritium fuel supply. Progress towards a working reactor has been dismal, and the problems may be insuperable.’
Dr Carr says that even if fusion reactors can be brought onstream, they are unlikely to deliver cheap electricity: ‘The costs of electricity from a fusion reactor are likely to exceed those from fission by a factor of ten or more. Fusion is simply not going to ride to politicians’ rescue.’
His study focuses on ‘mainstream’ fusion, such as the massive ITER reactor currently under construction in France, but he warns that alternative technologies being pursued in the private sector appear little more promising.
He says: ‘We don’t know as much about private sector projects, but the technical hurdles appear to be just as high.’
The briefing, entitled Nuclear Fusion: Should we bother? can be downloaded here.