reply to post by DaveNorris
fusion energy would be safer, with no radioactive waste.
This is incorrect. Any material exposed to the neutron emissions produced by fusion would be transmuted to radioactive isotopes. While gamma
radiation and other forms of high-energy emissions will actually transmute elements (often into unstable and 'unnatural' isotopes that rapidly
Basically - your reactor cores would still have to be replaced as they would literally decay from exposure to radiation. While it wouldn't be in the
same quantity as nuclear fission - you could put all the nuclear fission waste into a building the size of a football field if you stacked the waste
12 feet high. That's all nuclear fission waste - ever.
Waste is not a legitimate concern in the nuclear power industry. Concerns over it are so greatly exaggerated that it is an affront to human claims of
sentience and intelligence.
and it would be cheaper to produce and maintain,
Not necessarily. Fission is an almost entirely exothermic process - as is the burning of coal, natural gas, and other fuels. Most of the power
generated can be fed directly into the distribution grid.
Fusion, on the other hand, requires a lot of feed-back to support its continued operation. Superconductors need to be supplied with massive amounts
of power to provide the plasma containment fields. Those same superconductors must be cooled to single-digit kelvin temperatures while being in
proximity to plasmas that are hotter than the surface of the sun.
Which leads back to the main problems we are experiencing with fusion. It's not creating a fusion reaction - it's creating a fusion reaction
whereby we can harness enough power to continue the reaction -and- create spare power on the side.
Once we hit the "zero point" (depending upon what circles you are in - this 'zero point' is considered the point at which a fusion reactor
generates enough power to continue its own free-standing fusion process) - it will probably be another decade or two before fusion actually reaches a
point where it can even begin to compete in terms of power generation with fission and even fossil sources of fuel.
We are struggling just to get a fusion process to break even. Getting a fusion process to break even and generate megawatt-hours per square kilometer
of facility grounds (which is the case with current nuclear and fossil fuels)... may take a while.
It's no use to build a multi-billion dollar fusion power plant if it only ends up producing as much power as a few million-dollar windmills (which,
even at 30% nominal capacity rating, would still be cheaper to set up, even though you're having to build for four times the expected power draw to
ensure reliability during off-peak generation).
but im not sure if the energy companies would pass them savings on to the consumer as we all know that the world we live in is all about the
It really depends. If laws mandate their construction; then you will end up paying higher prices for your utilities for the first five to ten years
after construction of any new power facility is constructed. There are no competing options (though those laws are likely to set a cap on the price
of electric utilities - if the price is substantially lower than existing utility costs - then government subsidies have to be implemented to ensure
construction and continued economic viability... which will end up having to come about through increased taxes or the issuing of bonds... or
inflation of fiat currency if funding is from the federal level).
Basically - even with fission reactors (a proven technology that is getting cheaper and safer by the decade) - you are looking at considerable
investments in construction (largely because most of the reactor must be custom built on-site... a target of mini-reactor developers who look to
create reactors that can be largely assembled in a factory and delivered to smaller construction sites) and time.
It would take decades and trillions of dollars to replace our current infrastructure with nuclear power over the next 50 years (and it would take that
long). Fusion - if it were to be solved and power competitive with Fission - would take just as long and would likely be stifled by China's
dominance of the rare-earth materials; and be several times as expensive.
Which is why most realistic 'energy policies' put forward look to replace coal with natural gas plants in the interim with long-term movement into
nuclear power (over about 50 years). Fusion will likely enter the playing field within the next 20 to 70 years. Depends upon what lucky breaks are
made, where, and how companion technologies in manufacturing and materials science evolve.