Follow by Email


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nuclear Fusion

There's a long running joke about nuclear fusion. It will be ready in 20 years -always has been always will be.

This recent article about nuclear fusion hasn't changed the joke much.

The promise of nuclear fusion is a seductive one. A fusion reactor would produce no nuclear wastes and be safe from meltdowns. The problem is that scientists have great difficulty producing more energy than it takes to run the process. Fusion devices are huge and complicated. The current International project is the second most expensive ever, only surpassed by the space station.

Let's say they are successful. Pretend they are able to construct reactors that are commercially viable. All that does is a keep a crappy system in business. Electricity users would still have to send out payments to a giant corporation. The whole inefficient distribution system would still be in place. The grid is rickety now, with overloaded and antiquated systems. It needs a a lot of investment and upgrades. Guess who'll pay for that?

Even if the grid was in good shape, two thirds of the power generated is lost in transmission. The whole giant power plant/grid system is a hugely inefficient model.

There is currently off the shelf technology to provide for most of our electrical needs with renewable resources. Power generated on site eliminates the horrible transmission losses. Most people could be provided with adequate electricity using a local decentralized system. Ask someone who lives off grid of they miss their monthly bill. Most are more than happy to put up with the limitations of their off grid system.

Of course, that doesn't fit the big business model of all those monthly payments. There's no incentive for power companies to put themselves out of business. It's not about providing power. It's about collecting payments.

Why should be put our hopes in a system that continues the status quo?

Maybe there is a use for fusion reactors. Build them to power things like aluminum refiners or massive computer server farms. Cluster the big power users and the fusion plant all together to reduce transmission losses. That might make some sort of sense -assuming fusion isn't perpetually 20 years in the future.

As for the average person, they'd be much better making their own power and disconnecting from the system. The best part is that it works now, not 20 years in the future.



  1. Been saying all that for years, and being a former power plant operator I have first hand experience. "distributed generation", as in power generated on site, is the way to go. But that cuts out the huge corporate utility middle men, so... Guess we just have to wait for our "Mr. Fusion" like in "Back to the Future"...

    1. You've been there so you know how it works. Now a "Mr. Fusion" device would be very cool. That I could get behind.

  2. Another damn right wing anarchist simply trying to green and small like all us enviromentalists recommend but you are not doing it properly.
    I'm no treehugger my daddy earnd his living off the the trees and farming. Some how If I can afford to be green I am not doing enough to force big corparations to be green. I'm not getting any tax breaks for setting up my small little solar set up. I get no tax breaks for handing out a few solar yard lights among my neighbors. I do it because I want them to see the steps at home or because the help me with my yard and give them a little pay back.

    1. I never got any tax breaks for my solar electric system. Did it anyway because it made sense to me, over 20 years ago.

  3. So true Sixbears.
    The average householder can make their own power and have less debt.
    Choose a better way of life.
    One that you're in control of.
    I've been living off grid for twenty three years. It's easy, it's affordable and it's fun...

    1. It is fun, isn't it? Why wouldn't people want to have fun?

  4. Nuclear fusion works! and we already have a reactor set up, 93 million miles away....

  5. Yup, one day we shall have fusion power for use at night and fusion power during the day with solar cells. One day...
    Until then we might use solar for the day time and just fuse with momma at night hee hee

    1. I tell my lovely wife I'm warmth in the winter and shade in the summer. :)