Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change?
As per Dennis Whyte, a native of Saskatchewan, Canada and the director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, at M.I.T., the field of nuclear fusion, as a whole, was still moving forward, but agonizingly slowly..
The accelerating climate crisis makes fusion’s elusiveness more than cutely maddening. Solar energy gets more efficient and affordable each year, but it’s not continuously available, and it still relies on gas power plants for distribution. The same is true for wind power. Conventional nuclear power has extremely well-known disadvantages. Carbon capture, which is like a toothbrush for the sky, is compelling, but after you capture a teraton or two of carbon there’s nowhere to put it. All these tools figure extensively in decarbonization plans laid out by groups like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but, according to those plans, even when combined with one another the tools are insufficient. Fusion remains the great clean-energy dream—or, depending on whom you ask, pipe dream.
Fusion, theoretically, has no scarcity issues; our planet has enough of fusion’s primary fuels, heavy hydrogen and lithium, which are found in seawater, to last thirty million years. Fusion requires no major advances in batteries, it would be available on demand, it wouldn’t cause the next Fukushima, and it wouldn’t be too pricey—if only we could figure out all the “details.”
The details are tremendously complex, and the people who work to figure them out have for years been dealing with their own scarcities—scarcities of funding and scarcities of faith. Fusion, as of now, has no place in the Green New Deal.