The advantages of fusion
Fusion is an environmentally friendly energy option offering the possibility of a sustainable, large-scale and long-term energy supply. Several factors make it particularly attractive for large-scale, base-load electricity production:
- Almost limitless fuel supply. The basic fuels are distributed widely around the globe. Deuterium is abundant and can be extracted easily from sea water. Lithium, from which tritium can be produced, is a readily available light metal in the Earth’s crust.
- No greenhouse gas emissions. Fusion power will not generate gases such as carbon dioxide that are causing growing concern with regard to global warming and other damaging effects on the environment.
- Suitable for the large-scale electricity production required for the increasing energy needs of modern cities. A fusion power station will generate a large amount of electricity around the clock.
- Waste from fusion will not be a long-term burden on future generations. Only reactor structures close to the fusion plasma will become radioactive. Any radioactive waste generated will be small in volume and the radioactivity will decay over several decades with the possibility of reuse after about 100 years.
- The transport of radioactive materials is not required in the day-to-day operation of a fusion power station. The radioactive tritium can be generated and consumed as needed within the reactor.
- The system has inherent safety aspects. Only very small amounts of fuel are present in the reactor at any one time. Any malfunction results in a rapid shutdown: ‘runaway’ or ‘meltdown’ accidents are impossible as no chain reaction is involved.
- Very low risk of radioactive emissions to the environment. Extensive safety studies have shown that a fusion power station can be operated without significant risk of radioactive emissions. Even in a ‘worst case’ accident scenario there would be no need to evacuate the local population.