29 June 2005
I hadn't made up my mind yet about the new International Thermal Energy Reactor, a $12-billion fusion reactor to be built at Cadarache, northwest of Marseilles. The theoretical advantages of fusion are considerable: the energy production is prodigious pound for pound, about 10 million times more efficient than fossil fuels and waste products are less hazardous than those produced by contemporary fission reactors. Still, the ITER is only a precursor to commercial fusion-power production, which is at least a decade or two away, maybe more.
It was Greenpeace, though, who finally pushed me off the fence:
"Pursuing nuclear fusion and the ITER project is madness," said Bridget Woodman of Greenpeace. "Nuclear fusion has all the problems of nuclear power, including producing nuclear waste and the risks of a nuclear accident. Why is Europe backing a bad energy option, with no prospect of operation in the near future, when alternative, environmentally acceptable options for electricity generation exist now? Renewable energy has massive potential, yet the EU continues to plough billions of euros in research and development grants into nuclear fusion."
In France, where the ITER will be located, nuclear reactors currently produce more than 75 percent of the country's electrical power. And France isn't exactly teeming with vacant locations where one could locate massive wind farms of the sort Greenpeace envisions.
Given the dichotomy for which Greenpeace argues you can have fusion, or you can have renewables, but you can't have both I'm inclined to think more favorably of the ITER, if only because I tend to believe that we're going to need every kilowatt we can get in the years to come. We can have both, and I think we will have both.Posted at 9:10 AM to Family Joules
TrackBack: 1:27 PM, 29 June 2005
» Catching my eye: morning A through Z from The Glittering Eye
Here's what's caught my eye this morning: Anywhere But Here has a brief rundown of examples of Christians being persecuted for their faith in India, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. Is it okay for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to prohibit......[read more]