05 Jun Getting The Sun Down To Earth
– Ryan Swift, Peak Magazine Hong Kong:
Nuclear fusion investors feel they are spotting what could be the world’s biggest disruption – unmaking and rebuilding the world’s way of making electricity.
By and large, the electricity business is dirty. Generating electricity still involves burning a lot of coal. Burning natural gas is cleaner, but still causes harmful emissions. Despite years of heavy investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, these still constitute a distinct minority of total electricity generation. Add to that the almost certain increase in electricity demand and generation in the years to come, as Asia and Africa continue to industrialise and urbanise. The pressure for green sources of electricity will only increase.
Nuclear fission, the process of splitting heavy uranium atoms to create heat and therefore electricity, has fallen from favor because of the horrible risks associated with the radioactive waste that results from the fission process. Chernobyl and Fukishima are testaments to that. Yet, nuclear fission is one of the biggest sources of emissions-free electricity the world has.
To fix this dilemma, a global band of scientists and engineers have been on a quest to crack the riddle of nuclear fusion power, a potential source of clean, limitless electricity. For over 50 years, major governments and research labs have committed resources to trying to make nuclear fusion power work, in the hope that pollution-free, readily available electricity can be had, everywhere in the world. Nuclear fusion relies on isotopes of hydrogen, readily found in seawater.