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Fusion Power: A Strategic Choice for the Future Energy Provision. Why is So Much Time Wasted for Decision Making?

William D. D'haeseleer

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 47 / Number 3 / April 2005 / Pages 330-336

Technical Paper / Fusion Energy - Fusion Plenary and Overview

From a general analysis of the world energy issue, it is argued that an affordable, clean and reliable energy supply will have to consist of a portfolio of primary energy sources, a large fraction of which will be converted to a secondary carrier in large baseload plants. Because of all future uncertainties, it would be irresponsible not to include thermonuclear fusion as one of the future possibilities for electricity generation.

The author tries to understand why nuclear-fusion research is not considered of strategic importance by the major world powers. The fusion programs of the USA and Europe are taken as prime examples to illustrate the 'hesitation'. Europe is now advocating a socalled 'fast-track' approach, thereby seemingly abandoning the 'classic' time frame towards fusion that it has projected for many years. The US 'oscillatory' attitude towards ITER in relation to its domestic program is a second case study that is looked at.

From the real history of the ITER design and the 'siting' issue, one can try to understand how important fusion is considered by these world powers. Not words are important, but deeds. Fast tracks are nice to talk about, but timely decisions need to be taken and sufficient money is to be provided. More fundamental understanding of fusion plasma physics is important, but in the end, real hardware devices must be constructed to move along the path of power plant implementation.

The author tries to make a balance of where fusion power research is at this moment, and where, according to his views, it should be going.

 
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