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Archive for December 21st, 2022

Fusion Power Breakthrough…Really?

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This is from a press release I got this morning. The message is too long to make it feasible for a Mastodon post (500 characters) but I will post a link there back to this post as I think this is important information. TL:DR version – we don’t need a fusion power source – we’ve already got one – the sun! By the time the technology gets up to scale and comparable cost to solar will be TOO LATE. We need lots more renewables now not in the distant future

Guest post from Garry Cinnamon, of Cinnamon Energy

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have announced a fusion breakthrough using lasers. The future of clean, limitless energy according to Forbes! A game-changer for climate according to PBS!

Using a laser and power plant system about the size of a sports stadium, the experiment generated a net power output of about one megajoule. This fusion power plant can blast the laser about 10 times a week. Sounds impressive.

Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but one megajoule is equivalent to 0.278 kwh — about the same amount of energy a single solar panel will generate in an hour from that fusion power plant 92 million miles away.

Press coverage somehow missed the fact that the energy output of this test is de minimis. They also missed the facts that fusion releases vast quantities of dangerous neutron radiation, that this radiation will contaminate surrounding equipment (just like fission reactors), that that we have not yet engineered a way to capture the heat from laser or tokamak fusion, and that there is no good source for all the tritium fuel necessary for fusion (other than more fusion reactors).

It takes at least 20 years to get a new nuclear fission plant permitted and constructed. At this point we don’t even have a working prototype laser fusion plant — that could take another 30 years. Realistically, we’re 50+ years away from getting commercial laser or tokamak fusion power plants working at scale. In the mean time, deploying billions of lowly solar panels is the safest, most reliable and least expensive way to generate the energy we need.

To learn more about the realities of a fusion power breakthrough, please listen to this week’s Energy Show.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 21, 2022 at 11:17 am

Posted in energy

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