June 28, 2005

Fussion reactors, a little more progress

Finally, the location for Iter has been decided, it only took 18 months of wrangling. Iter is to be in southern France so now construction can begin on this 10 billion euro project. Iter itself will not generate electricity, but it should get beyond break-even and actually start producing more energy than it consumes. JET managed to just about get to thermodynamic break-even, so if you added all of the energy that it was putting out in all of it's forms it was equal to the amount of energy put in. Iter will not finish construction until at least 2016 but it should do better than JET actually release more recoverable energy than it consumes. Beyond that we are looking at DEMO, the first actual fusion power plant. Typically the greenies are up in arms about people attempting to make new things and push the boundaries of technology:
"With 10 billion [euros], we could build 10,000MW offshore windfarms, delivering electricity for 7.5 million European households," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International.

"Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy which will never deliver any useful energy. Instead, they should invest in renewable energy which is abundantly available, not in 2080 but today."
Much of which is actually true as Iter is very expensive (personally I think that much quicker progress could be made by investing in Electrostatic confinement devices such as trying to work the bugs out of Fusors which are much cheaper and can therefore have a greater number of experiments and faster iterations between) and will not actually generate any useful energy. But like always whilst extolling the virtues of wind power they forget to mention that a back up is needed for when the wind doesn't blow, a backup capable of generating 80% of the energy of the wind turbines. With only current technologies capable of doing this are fossil fuels or fission. Strange that they never mention this.


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