Allan Takes Aim Blog

The future is Fusion

Posted on: 7 September 2010


Published The Chronicle, Tuesday 7 September, 2010

Strangely, IPCC scientists (and Lord Nicolas Stern) all of whom say that planet earth is doomed unless CO2 emissions are cut never seem to mention nuclear fusion. Perhaps they’re shy? If so, I’ll say it for them. 

The fact is, energy produced by nuclear fusion is not only limitless and waste free, it will also cut the use of fossil fuels to nil and make redundant the wave energy barrages, solar panels and power windmills currently polluting  the landscape. Geo-thermal power will still be used.

So why aren’t the doomsayers calling for development of fusion energy as a priority? Don’t they care that it will remove the need to use fossil fuel power in housing, hospitals, schools or in the manufacturing and mining industries? And don’t they want clean energy to power cars, trains, ships and planes and so help create the kind of environment they want?

Because demand for their products would be reduced, I can understand coal and oil companies not wishing fusion to become reality. And governments too, would view it with reluctance unless it became politically expedient to do otherwise, because they would lose the tax that the coal and oil industries provide.

At the same time, if coal and oil companies as well as governments really mean what they say when they talk about curbing CO2 they could demonstrate their sincerity by actively and publicly encouraging the accelerated development of fusion. Will they? Well that’s the $64,000 question.

Unless one believe in miracles, it is unlikely they would support such a proposition. And while I don’t find their attitude surprising what I do find surprising in Australia is, that despite Sir Mark Oliphant, famous Australian scientist, former Governor of South Australia and part of an international group which in 1932 saw fusion’s potential, fusion is not a subject to which the Australian media pays much attention. Interestingly Sir Mark created the plasma fusion research program at the Australian National  University in 1952. 

 Many are the voices, scientists included, which claim that fusion is pie in the sky. Let me give  the lie to that by pointing out that China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, America and nations of the European Union, by their membership of ITER (the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) group of nations, are now collaboratively spending billions of dollara to make fusion viable.

Let me now reassure people who get frightened at the mention of anything nuclear as a  source of power, that they needn’t be. Nuclear fusion is created by crushing together the nuclei in atoms to create clean energy, while nuclear fission is created by splitting atoms to produce the material necessary for making nuclear weapons.

Although I can understand fossil fuel companies not being excited by fusion I cannot understand why the IPCC and Greenpeace, as evidenced by Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist Greenpeace UK derides it, as reported by Harry de Quetteville in the Daily Telegraph (UK) August 11, 2010.

“We are sceptical on fusion,” said Dr Parr, “It is taking money away from renewables like offshore wind, solar and geo-thermal. We are fiscally constrained and there are screaming short-term needs – like decarbonising our electricity production.”

“The fundamental critique of fusion,” according to Dr Parr, “is that it is 40 years away and always has been. We are continuing to put large quantities of money into something that may not deliver.” Surely Dr Parr is not sceptical of the science that suggests fusion is both practicable and viable? Perhaps his scepticism is based on the fact that Greenpeace wants huge sums to be spent on its favoured technologies, wind farms for example, that could take forty years to develop fully and also might not work?

It is unfortunate that like members of the Spanish Inquisition, many members of climate change groups have become zealots. Indeed nothing would suit many of them better than that non believers in their environmental vision should be expelled from society.   

Finally, fusion scientists are not be compared with the ancient alchemists who tried to change base metals into gold. The fact is, apart from powering the sun and stars, since 1991 fusion has been working on a small scale at the Culham Research Centre outside Oxford.

The Chronicle Canberra for the best community news. Published every Tuesday

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1 Response to "The future is Fusion"

Hello are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

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