“Nuclear” okay, but fusion energy is better
3 Oct 2014
Australia should sink more resources into pursuing a fusion-led energy future, according to one of the world’s leading advocates in the field.
The Head of the Plasma Research Laboratory at the Australia National University, Professor John Howard, says fusion is “an inexhaustible clean energy source” because it burns hydrogen out of water.
Speaking ahead of his address to All-Energy Australia 2014 in Melbourne on October 15th and 16th, Professor Howard says water makes up two-thirds of the planet, so there is no shortage of that “liquid gold”.
He says “there is no question that fusion is feasible but a number of engineering challenges must be overcome, including finding suitable material that can withstand the enormous heat flows.”
The Professor will call on the federal government at All-Energy to back the Australian scientific community’s proposal to contribute a “diagnostic instrument” to the $20 billion prototype fusion reactor currently being built in France.
He says “it is critical that we continue work in this area, modest though it may be, so that when fusion becomes viable we have some traction … and we will be in a position to make informed decisions.”
The Professor will tell All-Energy delegates that fusion has the potential to replace all our base-load power needs, which can’t be met by renewables due to intermittency and storage problems.
In the interim, while he acknowledges that nuclear “produces a large amount of high-level, long-lived radioactive waste”, he believes it is a better alternative for the planet than burning coal and gas.
The Professor says the requirement is clear, namely a cost-effective, centralised high density power source and the long-term answer is fusion.
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