Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 47 / Number 3 / April 2005 / Pages 279-290
Technical Paper / Fusion Energy - Fusion Plenary and Overview
The challenge to global energy future lies in meeting the needs and aspirations of the ten to twelve billion earthlings that will be on this planet by 2050. At least an eight-fold increase in annual production will be required by the middle of this century. The energy sources that can be considered developed and "in the box" for consideration as sources for major increases in supply over the next half century are fossil fuels, nuclear fission, and, to a lesser degree, various forms of direct and stored solar energy and conservation. None of these near-term sources of energy will provide an eight-fold or more increase in energy supply for various technical, environmental and political reasons.
Only a few potential energy sources that fall "out of the box" appear worthy of additional consideration as possible contributors to energy demand in 2050 and beyond. These particular candidates are deuterium-tritium fusion, space solar energy, and lunar helium-3 fusion. The primary advantage that lunar helium-3 fusion will have over other "out of the box" energy sources in the pre-2050 timeframe is a clear path into the private capital markets. The development and demonstration of new energy sources will require several development paths, each of Apollo-like complexity and each with sub-paths of parallel development for critical functions and components.