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Poll results: Will we see power generated by nuclear fusion by 2040?



Nuclear fusion is the energy source of the future – and always will be” is the perennial saying of those critics who don’t believe that nuclear fusion will ever become a source of net energy generation. It’s a sentiment shared by many EngineeringPro readers (15.38% to be precise). But there are many other views and thoughts on the feasibility of fusion which we can share with you this week…
We received a broad range of opinions regarding the feasibility of nuclear fusion as a power generation source
As the graph above illustrates, opinions and views on nuclear fusion are fairly evenly spread amongst EngineeringPro readers. 38.46% of readers hold the view that nuclear research will allow us to generate electricity from fusion by 2040. It seems that these readers are encouraged by the progress being made at the ITER project in southern France which is aiming to achieve ‘First Plasma’ by 2025 (presumably with first electricity coming soon after). 

The fusion optimists are outweighed by those that take a more sceptical view however. 38.46% of poll respondents believe that ‘No – nuclear fusion will be achieved, but not within this timeframe’. This is a view which is backed up by quite considerable historical evidence. Scientists the world over have been working on fusion – the process of enabling hydrogen atoms to crash into each other and fuse – since the 1950s with little success. 

As mentioned at the top of this article, there are a segment of readers who are more sceptical still - with 15.38% of respondents believing that ‘No – nuclear fusion will never be a source of power.”
Will nuclear fusion ever become a viable grid-scale power generation option?
This scepticism is shared by those readers who choose to leave a comment, including one reader who stated that:

“They might generate fusion, but it will not be generating electricity by then.”

That’s a neat summary of challenge facing scientists. Whilst it’s possible to achieve fusion under extremely controlled circumstances, and for short periods of time, it doesn’t seem like fusion will ever become a net energy generation source…

Do you agree?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! The most insightful thoughts, arguments and opinions will be featured in the next issue of the EngineeringPro Newsletter.
Recent Comments
yes it probably is technically feasible, but at what astronomical cost, we now see Solar and wind as the lowest form of power generation, with little in the way is waste, but anything nuclear even fusion will make radioactive waste that costs a huge amount to store and manage for ever, the costs involved direct and indirect is just not worth it,
David Lowe, 27 November 2019
Nuclear fusion has no prospects of making it commercially, for the generation of electricity, in competition with advanced, proven designs of fission nuclear power plants [npp]. Leading the charge is GE-Hitachi's BWRX-0300 SMR. The first one will commence build in 2025, and with a 2 year build programme, it will be operational in 2027. The capital cost will be 60% less per kW of installed capacity, than current 'big' npps. By 2030, production line versions will have a capital cost of US$2,000/kW. That's $600 million for a 300 MW npp, which is competitive to gas and a 60% lower capital cost than the most cost-effective of renewable technologies - onshore wind. The BWRX-300 will do a 'VHS number' on other npps - big or small. And it's easily explained: The design of a passively safe, integral reactor could not be simpler - it may never be bettered. The building volume is 90% less per MW than current npps and the amount of concrete used - the big cost driver - is 50% less per MW. In respect of nuclear waste, we're talking about the safest waste on the planet and we should all concern ourselves with lead leaching into groundwater from the millions of solar panels heading for landfill. And similarly, the toxins released into the environment from millions of tonnes of ground up GRP from wind turbine blades. The flip side of the minuscule amount of nuclear waste, is the benefits to the lives of each and everyone of us, by virtue of pollution-free npps displacing coal fired power plants. Nuclear power has benefited the UK to a calculable amount and - would you believe it - the Ukraine! Search for: "UK nuclear power plants have generated 3,000 TWh"
Colin Megson , 04 December 2019
There is very little radioactive waste from Nuclear Fusion as suggested by David's comments and any that is has a half life 1000's of times less that that generated by Nuclear Fission. The cost of Nuclear Fusion research is HUGE but the humanitarian gains will be much bigger if ITER and DEMO (it's successor) can demonstrate Fusion on an Industrial scale whilst producing net gains in terms of Megawatts of power generation. Nuclear Fusion, unlike Nuclear Fission, has a failsafe operating mode meaning that catastrophes such as those seen at Chernobyl and Fukishima could not happen and is therefore less of a threat to humanity. The amount of electricity generated by solar and wind is relatively small meaning that massive wind or solar farms are needed to power just a few homes, as can be seen by the proliferation of solar panels now covering many green spaces in the UK. A single Fusion plant the size of which is planned for DEMO would possibly be capable of powering many cities. Just wanted to balance the view :-)
Martyn Lee, 05 December 2019
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Poll results: Will we see power generated by nuclear fusion by 2040? - Time to read 2 min
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