Researchers from the UK firm Tokamak Energy say that future fusion reactors could be made much smaller than previously envisaged – yet still deliver the same energy output. That claim is based on calculations showing that the fusion power gain – a measure of the ratio of the power from a fusion reactor to the power required to maintain the plasma in steady state – does not depend strongly on the size of the reactor. The company’s finding goes against conventional thinking, which says that a large power output is only possible by building bigger fusion reactors.
Of course, there’s a catch; the article later states that “many challenges remain.” That’s the biggest understatement since Jim Lovell said “Houston, we have a problem.”
Small fusion reactors sure would solve a lot of energy problems. But there’s another nuclear solution that is available now; small fission reactors.
Why are we not building more fission reactors? We desperately need the electrical generation capacity. There are fabulously safe pebble-bed reactors, there are lithium reactors, there are any number of ways to build clean, safe, and, yes, green (compared to coal) fission reactors.
Nuclear power has to be a larger part of our energy portfolio. Fusion is a ways off, but fission is here now. It’s staggeringly stupid to be spending money on windfarm humbugs when proven energy technology already exists.