Thermonuclear Fusion - Current Status

01-03-2003

Between the discovery of its fundamental principles and the possible availability of commercially usable fusion power there will probably (and remarkably) be a period of around 100 years of intensive (and very expensive) R&D. It is difficult to say definitively whether fusion research is still more a matter of fundamental research or has progressed into the stage of development of an energy technology. In this context, this study addresses the following questions: - What is the cost of fusion research? - Do we need thermonuclear fusion? - Is thermonuclear fusion safe? - Is electricity from thermonuclear fusion economical? - Is electricity from thermonuclear fusion ecologically sound? - Is thermonuclear fusion socially sustainable? In the light of these questions, and the answers presented, the study then explores different options for how to proceed (or not) with the fusion R&D programmes.

Between the discovery of its fundamental principles and the possible availability of commercially usable fusion power there will probably (and remarkably) be a period of around 100 years of intensive (and very expensive) R&D. It is difficult to say definitively whether fusion research is still more a matter of fundamental research or has progressed into the stage of development of an energy technology. In this context, this study addresses the following questions: - What is the cost of fusion research? - Do we need thermonuclear fusion? - Is thermonuclear fusion safe? - Is electricity from thermonuclear fusion economical? - Is electricity from thermonuclear fusion ecologically sound? - Is thermonuclear fusion socially sustainable? In the light of these questions, and the answers presented, the study then explores different options for how to proceed (or not) with the fusion R&D programmes.

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Armin Grunwald, Reinhard Gruenwald, Dagmar Oertel, Herbert Paschen, Office for Technology Assessment Attached to the German Bundestag