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« Shameless, shameless, shameless | Main | Computer crimes »
Tuesday
Sep222015

The Lords on fusion

Back in July, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee took evidence on prospects for commercial nuclear fusion in the UK, hearing from Steven Cowley of the Culham fission research centre and David Kingham of Tokamak Energy Ltd.

Reading the transcript, it's hard to avoid the impression that in the UK at least fusion research is something of a white elephant, but one that is being sustained by climate change alarm. As has always been the case with fusion, the timescales discussed run to decades and project managers try to justify themselves with talk of spin-off benefits. However, Lord Peston noted that there is something of a problem with trying to use global warming as justification for the vast expenditure:

Lord Peston: I am a bit lost again—as you can tell, I get lost all the time. How can technology that will be available in 40 to 80 years possibly influence climate change? If we have to save the planet in the next 40 years, we are doomed anyway. You cannot use the climate change argument.
It's interesting to wonder just how far spending decisions are being distorted by climate change alarm.
Lord Peston turns out to be someone you could warm to, demonstrating a way of summing up key issues in a pithy fashion. Take this intervention for example, in which he considers claims that commercial fusion reactors will be available between 2040 and 2080:
Lord Peston: And you think you can forecast over that timescale? I do not know anyone else in the forecasting game who would remotely make a remark like that. I speak as someone who used to earn a good living from forecasting. You are talking about cloud-cuckoo-land, are you not?
I wonder where he stands on the climate issue?

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Reader Comments (51)

As a young man I worked at RAL in Oxfordshire. The fusion thing had been running for years before I joined, I think they were even working on it when I visited Culham with the school band to give a lunchtime concert, aged 15, & we were given the "tour" afterwards. By that reckoning, if it is achievable, & that's a big if, in 80 years time, then the programe of research will have been over 100 years in the making. Can't think of any other field of scientific research that has run that long before. I wonder what other more viable form of energy could/will be developed in that timeframe!

Sep 22, 2015 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Fusion research should continue as an international collaboration scheme, but at a low priority level. The number one priority for energy research should be cheap, advanced nuclear power. IMO.

Sep 22, 2015 at 9:45 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby on Sep 22, 2015 at 9:45 AM

The fact that there is so much international collaboration in fusion research does hint that it is a 'very long term' project:
http://www.iter.org

If there was any reasonable chance of a 'quick win' it wouldn't be happening to the extent it is.

Sep 22, 2015 at 9:57 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

We're awash with fossil fuels...gas, oil, coal. They are accessible, transportable and versatile.

And burning them will make the planet warmer and greener.

What's not to like?

Sep 22, 2015 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

There should be 2 priorities for energy research and fusion doesn't make the cut:
(1) Reworking solar and wind generators to produce methane or hydrogen. Unlike electricity, these gasses can be easily stored on site until needed, solving the current problem of intermittent generation that requires expensive backup.
(2) Saving lives in Africa by providing alternatives to cooking on wood or dung fires.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete Austin

Everyone talks about the very timescales to achieve a finished fusion project.
But no-one talks about the milestones along the way.

When will certain temperatures be achieved and held in the magnetic fields?
When will the ability to extract energy from those temperatures be achieved.
When will it become net energy gain for anytime
Then when will it become sustained.

If the next conceivable milestone is due in three years then the project is progressing (if slowly).
But they never look at what they are doing today.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Alan the Brit, it is almost 100 years since the Russian revolution, and the start of the brave new era of Communism.

Communism has not worked yet, but it doesn't stop the dreamers, trying to enforce their nightmares on others.

Meanwhile fusion remains a wonderful idea, for a brave new world, on a 100 year time scale, but I am not sure whether our grandchildren should be incurring debts for their grandchildren, to be paid off with the profits from excess wind, forecast by unreliable salesmen.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

it would be nice to think the noble lord could educate his son and colleagues at the BBC.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Having listened to the recent discussions about investing in fission, never mind fusion, it seems that climate change is a given as far as policy is concerned. Getting rid of all carbon at any cost is accepted.

Sceptics have lost the argument. Failed climate models have won. Attention will now move to those fighting over the blank cheques.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

At the present time if you want funding for a continuing, or a new. project then it MUST have some link to global warming/climate change - on link, no funding.

We might see that as ludicrous but that is the way academia works at the moment.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

What's happening with nuclear energy from thorium? Isn't thorium safer by a long shot?

And does it not avoid producing bomb material?

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Colbourne

If a quarter of the effort involved was put into developing Moltex Energy's Stable Salt Reactor we would have safe, cheap nuclear energy within five years and an opening to multi-billion export orders.

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Manuell

@ golf charlie: Oh how your opening paragraphs are so true! As Latimer Alder has said, the world is awash with cheap (relatively) fossil fuels. However burning them may indeed make the planet greener, as NASA satellite data appears to show, but we don't "know" that it will make the planet warmer, that is merely a hypothesis upon which trillions ($) are to be mined from the public purse, as a seemingly bottomless pit! However, as the Wet Office recently announced, the Sun is in shutdown mode with cycle 24 & likely cycles 25 & 26 being similar, & they felt compelled to say something about it to cover their corporate arse, also likely a bit of face saving, announcing potential cooler climes ahead for 30-35 years! As I stated before, they are now warning us about something they have already stated via the IPCC, that which was impossible!

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

...Lord Peston: And you think you can forecast over that timescale? I do not know anyone else in the forecasting game who would remotely make a remark like that. I speak as someone who used to earn a good living from forecasting. You are talking about cloud-cuckoo-land, are you not?...

Lord Peston is talking nonsense! Fusion power not being available in 25-65 years? EVERYONE knows that fusion power will be available in 25-65 years.

Always has been, always will be....

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

In the realm of "Cloud-cuckoo-land"

Priceless. I like him already :-)

Sep 22, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterHalken

Alan the Brit,

In my distant past, 1970s, I did my doctoral thesis on fusion. ICRF heating, to be precise. It was a time where everything seemed possible, and people glibly talked about having a prototype reactor running by 2000 or so. As a humble graduate student, I decided I must be very dim indeed because it all seemed to ignore the fact that we didn't even understand the physics very well, let alone the engineering. There must be something I wasn't seeing. (I have the same problem with green technologies today.) Apparently I may have been on to something then. Despite some real advances, this still looks like a technology that nature just makes too complicated to be practical. I suspect that the monies involved, especially after how much has been spent already, are only going to be available if it is pitched as the solution to a crisis. Again, rather like green energy sources.

Alan the Yank

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Yank

@Pete Austin

I get extremely hot under the collar when people mention Dung fires.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Registered CommenterDung

This is more like: just pay us, and we will tell you another story next time its "50y away"

This is a scam. And our "fine" career politician shysters go for it of course. (How many park buddies in these institutes?)

I have nothing against throwing money, even a LOT of money, at fundamental research but this goes to the entitled few, indefinitely. As always.

Nuclear and nuclear fusion SHOULD be invested in , with a POLICY that encompasses COMPETITION, looking for new ideas, small entrants allowed , removing the leaning crony capitalists etc etc.
This will never happen with our "fine" career politician shysters.

there are a few good ideas out there, eg focusfusion.org.
But they have difficulty getting even a million while these indefinitely entitled whales get billions after billions for nothing.
I guess they make sure lots of proud wimmin appear on their brochures, there is an app for "proud happy children" to play with, and extra facilities for proud gays to toy around ? Hmmm Would that cover it?? And banquets and trips and conferences where BBC and other institutionalists in the parasiting game invite each other oin the tax dime.

The usual thing

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

It was David Kingham who pointed out to me that you don't need to have sustainable fusion reactions for fusion to be useful. To say that fusion is 80 or more years away, and therefore research projects are a white elephant seems to rule out hybrid reactor designs, as well as applications in nuclear medicine.

Equally, to the naysaying here, a comparison should be made between the budgets described by the witnesses for fusion R&D and, for instance, wind farms.

Robert C, above, says "If there was any reasonable chance of a 'quick win' it wouldn't be happening to the extent it is."

The implication is surely that wind and solar PV are winning...

Reading the transcript, it seems rather more that the lords want to talk about climate change than the witnesses. Of course researchers will discuss the virtues of their technology in terms of official priorities. But it seems to me that budgets for nuclear energy R&D fell (substantially -- halved between 1985 and 2005, in an IEA study) as climate change rose up the political agenda, and that the reason for this is not merely coincidental, or that climate change priorities diverted the money... The point is that the concomitant priorities of 'clean' energy is the view that we use 'too much' of it -- that official environmentalism is an ascetic ideology, in contrast to the (perhaps idealistic and unrealistic) optimism of the 'white heat' moment in which 'energy too cheap to meter' was at least a political ambition. Today's political ambitions are no more than 'keeping the lights on'. I know which ambition I would rather even slightly miss.

David Kingham's other interesting point:

"The European fusion road map is the most remarkable linear model of innovation. We know that things do not work like that in practice. It could be argued that setting a big, linear goal to fusion energy is the right thing for public bodies to do because it is a definite big goal and will have spin-off benefits, but the linear model of innovation does not work in
practice. Other things pop up, particularly over long timescales. There is a specific risk with the European fusion road map that the slow progress of the ITER device in France will cause a major delay to the whole road map."

It is amazing, I think, how quickly windfarms and solar panels popped up. And indeed, how easily the green movement was able to prevent Heathrow extensions, Kingsnorth and so on... Perhaps nuclear R&D is a 'white elephant' by design.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Dung, keep your head down if you hear the sound of dungfire, the choking smoke may get in your eyes, and lungs.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ben Pile, wind and solar had rapid uptake, because they were presented as the only solution for power production, having poisoned the minds of people against nuclear, oil, gas, coal etc. Therefore the public were brainwashed into seeing the arrival of a wind turbine as proof of the hi tech world, whereas wind and solar are proof of the unreliability of the future planned for us.

CND's legacy, of hating nuclear, is still proving beneficial. The Green Blob can present nuclear as something not yet ruled out, but very expensive, hence for the time being, UnReliablesYUK is the only way forward.

If UnReliablesYuk want to knock on my door, I will tell them to Blow Off someone else.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC, public opinion had nothing to do with it. The only relationship was between govt and the green blob.

The point was that the rapid deployment shows the scale of what is politically possible -- across Europe, the disposal of billions of euros and £, for no net benefit, in contrast to a few million for fusion R&D, which even that much has residents here grumbling about. It's not a coincidence; at least the greens could pretend to be optimistic.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

@Pete Austin

...There should be 2 priorities for energy research and fusion doesn't make the cut:
(1) Reworking solar and wind generators to produce methane or hydrogen....

Stop right there, and go and study the efficiency of such a process. That will explain why it's not going to work.

Taxpayer's money has been used to fund some initiatives - they hope for 70% while struggling to reach 30%. If we were to go any further we would be back to local gasworks covering a big acreage in every city, town and village....

Sep 22, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

In 1958 the world was excited by an announcement from the Atomic Energy labs in Harwell the it had produced a sustainable fusion reactor called ZETA. I remember how excited we all were. Unfortunately the neutrons produced were not from a fusion reaction.

I joined UKAEA at Aldermaston in early 1961 to work on the fusion programme. It was, in those days, a programme shared by Harwell and a very small section at Aldermason. I remember well the enthusiasm, and confidence that a self sustaining reactor would be available within twenty years. The entire programme was moved to Culham in the 1960s but I did not move with it. So the programme has been alive in this country, probably since 1950: sixty five years ago! And never forget that the USA has similar, and better funded programmes. So has Russia.

Sep 22, 2015 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

@Dodgy Geezer

Agree. How bad are the EROEI figures going to be for buffered offshore wind - negative?

Sep 22, 2015 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterVarco

I went to school not far from the Culham Lab, and plenty of schoolmates fathers worked there. This was back in the 80s, and it was said then that fusion was 2-3 decades away. I see now that its widened even further to 4-8 decades. They can't be making much progress if 30 years of work has resulted in an even further away completion date. Time to shut the whole project down and get them to work on something more achievable.

Sep 22, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJim

Ben Pile, public opinion in the UK was heavily manipulated against the Thatcher/Major Tory governments. Blair played on it, and Miliband used it to get cross-party support for the Climate Change Act. The Con/Lib alliance were wary of upsetting public opinion, and only now have the Tories realised that public opinion in favour of Green Blob crap, was not as consensus based, as trend setters wanted us all to believe.

Holy Green Crap, like the Holy Hockey Stick, is not sacred after all. It is only the EU, and its past diktats, preventing the Sticky Crap flying off the shovel.

Maybe we are arguing the same point. Public opinion in favour of the Green Blob's position has been moulded for over 20 years, even if there was no master plan. Common sense is now prevailing.

Sep 22, 2015 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

imho the projects of iter jet etc should be computer simulated 90%
they need ideas in computer simulation and modeling.

is not that different from nuclear bomb research
I am not too sure what they are building there actually, and I wonder does anyone know outside their knloseknit invoicing community? They toy a lot with ceramics and magnets..so where is the ceramics and magnetics industry? We need many new entrants and experts coming inthere, not big companies making 5y (what? 50y plans!) plans and schmoozing with extremely overpaid managers there.

Sep 22, 2015 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

I've been saying for years that ecofascists claiming to be able to predict things 100 years in the future were talking through their arses.

Glad to see professional forecasters agree with me.

Sep 22, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

GC, you miss the point. Public opinion didn't matter. Especially not to the CCA. As Ed Miliband showed, when he bemoaned the lack of support -- the absence of a popular pro-climate movement comparable to the civil rights movement of the 1960s -- for climate policies. He believed he could engage NGOs to generate public support for policies after the policies had been determined both domestically, and at supranational level. This explains the 10:10 campaign. The role of public opinion is furthermore displaced by supranational policy/agreements, at EU and UN level -- to which NGOs, but not the public -- have access.

Sep 22, 2015 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

There's a history of academics in the UK totally botching up research that should properly be done by engineers. It really comes from the academic mind-set which can't graph the simple realities of cost, reliability and actually working and instead focusses on "high tech" approaches.

It is therefore quite possible that if fusion research were handed over to and run by engineers, that we could have a viable fusion process going pretty quickly - although normally, the academics hold their hands up in dismay and say "that's not how it should have been done".

Sep 22, 2015 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Peter Stroud: "I remember well the enthusiasm, and confidence that a self sustaining reactor would be available within twenty years."

Given that the National Grid had barely been constructed 25 years earlier, within which time power from fission had become conceived, deigned and implemented -- not without significant public expense -- the optimism of the era is easy to understand. Moreover, all that during and following a world war, and significant political and economic crises. Today's biggest 'challenge' seems to be 'keeping the lights on' in an era of unprecedented peace and propsperity . For infrastructure which, as you point out was mastered over half a century ago, this is remarkable. There is more going on here than the 'challenge' at face value. It seems to be impossible to make the case for R&D without a crisis. This, to me, seems to explain why ambitions for nuclear fusion have lost to seemingly 'sexier' green energy projects.

Sep 22, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Cowley was careful not to bring up climate change as a reason to justify fusion; it was one of the other Lords who did that. Fusion energy is an end in itself. If it works then we have unlimited supplies of energy and we will need that by 2070. Cowley also said that it could be quicker but it will require more money to solve the existing problems in parallel rather than in series. It's a financial risk but still not much money in the great scheme of things and less than the US, China and Germany who have so far not achieved what JET has achieved. Fusion will not happen without government grants. Those who say it's a waste of money would probably have said the same thing about railways, aircraft, fission, the national grid, the internet and a host of other things that needed a government push.

I'm sure there are lots of bean-counters who say things have to pay their way or they should be scrapped and if we hadn't listened to them overly much then likely we'd still have some heavy industry left in Britain. In my experience engineers attempt to innovate to sell more product while bean-counters often just make everything crappier until nobody buys their stuff. ie long-termism versus short-termism! It is no surprise that Germans only allow engineers to run engineering companies and that is the reason they are still making money from engineering and are hence the economic engine of Europe, whereas in the UK we seem to imagine money is made by moving money around, endlessly turning over overpriced, lego-like houses, legalised loansharking or selling fresh air as a 'product'.

Sep 22, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

In the early 60s I had a book on science for the general reader. It talked about various things such as the changes computers would bring, new plastics, space travel etc, but also fission reactors with their problems and fusion reactors which would be a limitless boon, but were probably 50 years from fruition. It talked about the problems in containing the plasma and attempts to do this with magnetic bottles. They hadn't been able to sustain a reaction for more than a tiny fraction of a second and there was no net energy output.

I get the impression that nothing much has changed in the last 50 years. It's a worthy cause, and if it worked it would be brilliant, but there's not much sign of progress. It looks rather like flogging a dead horse. I suppose it depends how much money is being directed at research along these lines.

It's tempting to say that fusion reactors are the power of the future - and always will be.

Sep 22, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Cosmic: "I get the impression that nothing much has changed in the last 50 years."

Just how many fully-paid up members of Greenpeace are there here, anyway?

Sep 22, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Fusion is eight and a half minutes away.


That's what I'd say if I was from the other side.

(Texas housewife again. For a year or two, all visa'd up and everything.)

Sep 22, 2015 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Bishop Hill asks:

I wonder where he stands on the climate issue?

The answer's in the transcript:

Lord Peston: You do not have to persuade me that we have to do something about climate change

Sep 22, 2015 at 3:55 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

"Lord Peston: You do not have to persuade me that we have to do something about climate change."

Would that be mitigation or adaptation?

Sep 22, 2015 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDumfoonert

I see the argument about nuclear power has AGAIN been 'high-jacked' by the old school of the nuclear industry trained in 'traditional' nuclear engineering.

New nuclear power technologies have thus been sidelined and are barely mentioned
.
Lets use a reactor built in the sixties by the man who gave you the PWR, that generated power continuously, that could be used to 'burn' waste nuclear fuel from 'traditional nuclear' , that was regularly shutdown for the weekend and restarted on the Monday after, that required knowledge already gained from traditional chemical engineering, that was modular, fail safe and didn't require vast concrete domes to contain any leaking gases is barely even mentioned.
It uses a fuel that is as common as lead and generates very little plutonium, but it creates materials desperately needed and highly effective in treating cancer.
I talk of course, of the Molten Salt reactor 'burning' Thorium for fuel.

Sep 22, 2015 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Lord Peston: "You do not have to persuade me that we have to do something about climate change"

- maybe he means "because the climate changes anyway and always has done.

Sep 22, 2015 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

There are several groups of people who should never be allowed anywhere near to decisions about choosing between competing technologies and deciding which scientific projects we should spend money on:

Politicians
Public Servants
NGOs
Scientists

I make this statement with confidence!

So who should we get to do those jobs?

Sep 22, 2015 at 5:31 PM | Registered CommenterDung

http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/us/products/compact-fusion.html

Sep 22, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnM

Me: [We should be spending our research funds on] reworking solar and wind generators to produce methane or hydrogen. Unlike electricity, these gasses can be easily stored on site until needed, solving the current problem of intermittent generation that requires expensive backup.

Dodgy Geezer: Stop right there, and go and study the efficiency of such a process. That will explain why it's not going to work.

Me: It works just fine. In China alone, over 30 million households get unsubsidised energy in this way, using biological solar generators (plants and animals) to produce waste and biodigesters to convert it into methane. http://www.ecotippingpoints.org/our-stories/indepth/china-biogas.html

We have biodigesters in the West too, but I'm hoping that we can increase efficiency a lot by researching topics such as artificial photosynthesis.

Sep 22, 2015 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete Austin

Almost as big a scandal as the human-caused global warming scam is the scientific establishment’s rubbishing of the work of Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons. Their experiments publicised (OK, inadvisably) in March 1989, but based on five years of personally-funded prior study, have been replicated many times over the past 26 years and yet the message is still the same – impossible, because the “laws of physics” say so.

It was Richard Feynman who said "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." And yet there have been hundreds of experiments demonstrating generation of heat, helium, tritium and the changed composition of isotopes which cannot be explained by current theories. That these experiments have been done by so many different people in so many different laboratories in so many different countries, in my mind, makes vanishingly small that every single one was badly measured or wrongly conceived.

That an exciting new field is taboo to all but a few brave souls not prepared to toe the party line has strong echoes in my mind of those climate scientists willing to speak out against the “consensus”. Notice the Freudian slip in the above: not a mention of “cold fusion” once.

And, of course, the alarmists don’t like this idea either – a possible solution to (the non-problem of) CO2-induced global warming that does not involve the destruction of first-world economies.

Sep 22, 2015 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterdrjohngalan

Dung
rotating freelancers

Sep 22, 2015 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCo2

Pete Austin:

I recommend a visit to Euan Mearns' site to understand why your proposal has no basis in economic, engineering/chemical reality.

http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Frederick Colbourne:

This summarises the state of play and issues with Thorium:

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Thorium/

The use of thorium as a new primary energy source has been a tantalizing prospect for many years. Extracting its latent energy value in a cost-effective manner remains a challenge, and will require considerable R&D investment.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Ben Pile:

Ed Miliband's final Act (quite literally) was the 2010 Energy Act, which enshrined the principle that OFGEM should treat consumers as mushrooms so far as greenergy costs are concerned, and should always presume that greenergy is in the consumer interest. I await with interest the antidote commissioned by Amber Rudd - a report that is supposed to reveal all the hidden subsidies such as below cost charges for grid connections, lack of charging for backup costs etc.

Sep 22, 2015 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

You can visit the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

See http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/visits.aspx

I'm going in February, might see some of you there. I'm sure they'd welcome the opportunity to answer some of the questions in this thread :-)

Sep 23, 2015 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan Reid

It's quite clear the politicos have not the slightest interest in the development of reactors capable of safely generating virtually unlimited reliable energy at competitive cost. No interest whatsoever. If they were interested the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) has been in prospect now for half a century since the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) ran successfully at Oak Ridge in 1964 and proved the basic concept of such a reactor. It seems politicians find the idea of the UK having a reliable and abundant energy supply to be troubling and deeply unattractive. Far better to be supplied occasionally with violent surges of electricity generated intermittently at ridiculously uncompetitive cost subject to the vagaries of the weather and season in order to save the planet (not). A viable commercial LFTR is perhaps a decade or so away rather than the best part of a century for fusion, but perhaps that is what the politicians find attractive about the latter in their strange twisted way.

Sep 23, 2015 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

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