New ideas in fusion

This is an interesting, if light-on-details, article about the new wave of private research in fusion power. Some are looking at new ways of building tokamaks, some at stellarators, and some at exotic new ideas. Some of them claim that they will achieve first power in 2030.

I’m not competent to judge these claims – although I will observe that the use of VC funding in the renewables industry has led to rather optimistic forecasts – so I remain hopeful, yet cautious. I’m really glad that there is a sprouting of new ideas around fusion.

However: No matter how well it goes, fusion is not going to help with our immediate mess. Even if somebody has a working reactor in 2030, and even if it has the potential to become economically viable, it’ll be decades more to optimise it, reduce the cost, and build a significant number worldwide – not just in rich nations. We need to decarbonise now, not after 2050, and for the moment that means renewables and, probably, fission.

Fusion is quite possibly the future, and it should be funded; but at the moment, it cannot take any attention away from shorter-term solutions.

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