Scientists are concerned about the world’s continuous consumption of fossil fuels because of its harmful, irreversible effects to our environment. It’s difficult for them to fight this conventional source of energy when they have no convincing alternative solution at hand.
But they are not taking this sitting down. A group of Canadian scientists are now looking at developing what they see as the most viable alternative: nuclear fusion.
It is nuclear fusion that powers the sun and stars through the fusing together of hydrogen atoms to form helium, where the matter is converted into energy. They are two lighter atomic nuclei forming into a heavier nucleus.
There have been several attempts to discover more in this area of plasma physics, but nuclear fusion still has more to offer being a source of large-scale sustainable energy.
Scientists in Canada are now knocking on the door of the federal government to invest more in fusion research.
“It’s something that could be competitive with fossil fuels on the grid,” says Michael Delage, the chief technology officer at Burnaby-based General Fusion. He tells that the goal is to develop a prototype fusion power plant by 2030 — that could eventually be scaled up to replace oil and gas.
General Fusion is only one of the collective group involving Canadian universities and research labs that made a report called Fusion 2030, which aims to put their country on the lead when it comes to nuclear fusion technology. But that’s only possible if the federal government allocates $125 million over the next five years to research and academia.
Delage shares that there is an opportunity in this field but they only need the support. “We need to see an investment in research capacity and academia in order to make sure we’re producing the graduates with the skills that can contribute in this field,” he says.
If the Fusion 2030 will be given a go signal after being discussed in the Canada’s innovation agenda, it would be the first national fusion program since 1995.
The fate of this goal also depends on the provincial governments, which are asked to contribute $125 million in total in order to build a demonstration plant. The target is to have one working demonstration plant so private companies could emulate and commercialize the technology.
But why nuclear fusion among the renewable energy sources?
The report indicates that fusion has the highest energy density, the best energy payback ratio and lowest carbon footprint among all of the renewable options.