Fusion power: acceptable and affordable
Studies into the socioeconomic aspects of fusion power form another important part of the fusion research programme. The work evaluates the social acceptability and the economic cost of fusion energy, complementing studies on safety and environmental aspects and building on previous studies.
Long-term scenarios that model future energy options have found that fusion could be introduced during the second half of this century and reach a significant share of electricity generation by 2100. Fusion, along with other alternative energy sources, will compete primarily with baseload electricity power options in order to stabilise the CO2 content in the atmosphere in the fight to combat climate change.
The economic models indicate that plant reliability and the plant power output are the key parameters driving the cost of electricity production. The external costs of energy production are now being considered in addition to the production cost proper (e.g. the cost for society associated with acid rain and CO2 production from burning fossil fuels). Recent studies show that the external costs of fusion are comparable with renewable technologies such as wind power.
Public opinion on fusion has been studied in France, Germany and Spain. During these studies, the response of a local population to the prospect of a large fusion installation has been investigated. Results show that there is a strong association between fusion and fission technology in the public's mind and efforts are being made to explain the difference between these two technologies.