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Fusion reactors, here we come!

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, has officially been approved by seven international parties during a meeting in Belgium. The list of international parties includes the United States, European Union, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and India.  The project will cost an estimated $5.9B USD, and is also the world's biggest scientific collaboration. 

The BBC
reports "We represent more than half of the world's population, and recognize that by working together today we stand a much better chance of tackling the challenges of tomorrow, so energy is an issue of concern for all of us," according to the  EU science and research commissioner, Janez Potocnik.

The end result of the experimental fusion project should be a cheaper, cleaner and safer source of energy.  Global oil demand and greenhouse gas emissions will also theoretically drop if the nuclear fusion reactor is successful.  Fusion is a viable energy source because of natural abundance and availability, while no greenhouse gas emissions will be present.  Another advantage of fusion is that it will not produce any radioactive waste. 

But not everyone is pleased with the news.  Several environmental groups are against the project.  For example, one of the members of the Friends of the Earth group believes it would be a wiser choice to invest in renewable energy and energy conservation.



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RE: Kyoto
By Jeeves on 5/26/2006 9:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, Germany at least is currently 20% below the 1990 emissions - the set target was a 21% reduction until 2012.

The UK has even met their target of 12,5% reduction, IIRC - although the southern european nations (Spain, Portugal and Greece) have had massive increases that pretty much negate the benefit of reductions elsewhere ...

The biggest problem with Kyoto is that e.g. China was counted as a developing nation and thus has no obligations to reduce emissions at all! Given their massively growing economy and the fact that their enviromental protection standards are laughable, they're one of the biggest problems concerning climate change.

BTW, if that prototype (!) of a commercial reactor is supposed (!) to be ready in 2040 we really ought to think about energy conservation and renewable energy - the oil won't be getting any cheaper till then ... ;)


RE: Kyoto
By dgingeri on 5/26/2006 12:14:48 PM , Rating: 2
as long as human population keeps climbing, our energy needs will keep climbing. as it is now, our needs are about 5X that of the energy that reaches us from the sun. All the energy that we use today ends up as heat accumulating in the atmosphere. CO2 is not the villian. Oil and coal being burned to produce electricity and/or moving stuff around ends up as heat, plain and simple. there is only one option: we need to get waste heat off this planet and find some way to bring other forms of energy onto this planet. That, or simply stop breeding so much. as soon as the population gets down to a workable 1 billion, we'll be much better off.


RE: Kyoto
By stephenbrooks on 5/26/2006 2:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
Your energy scales are a bit wrong. The sunlight that reaches us is a few hundred times the amount of energy we currently need, but of course to harness all that you'd need to cover the whole planet in solar panels, which is not very practical.

So I agree with your idea that a world population of ~1 billion would be far better.

Also it really *is* the CO2 that is causing global warming. For the directly-generated heat to be a problem we'd need to be again using 100x or more energy than we currently to. Probably thousands of times more.


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