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a_look_at_alternative_energy_sources [2013/05/17 04:10]
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 =A Look at Alternative Energy Sources= =A Look at Alternative Energy Sources=
  
-==Introduction:  Foreword and Personal Opinion on a Very Subjective but Crucial Matter==+==Introduction==
  
 I recently took a 400 level Economics University course on Alternative Sources of Energy. ​ With the whole Global Warming, no wait - Global Cooling - wait again - Global Climate Change being such a big issue in the media, I think most American Universities feel they should help their students along by charging them an arm and a leg to study a whole lot of math, theory and what amounts really to nothing more than government business schemes - where the tax payers pay an enormous 18%-20% return on capital to already very rich individuals,​ investors who go on TV and push green energy pretending they'​re trying to help you by being altruistic with their billions when in fact they just want add to their billions but why take risk when they can get you to keep pressuring and keep voting for politicians who in turn will promise to pump billions of your money, the tax payers'​ money, for something that will not work as advertised nor is it needed right now or in the near future, but they have successfully convinced the masses and even smart individuals and politicians into thinking they need to help the planet by building such enormous and incredibily expensive and equally enormously inefficient alternative energy projects like wind farms with tax dollars because the money these "​caring investors"​ spend on these multi billion dollar projects are backed, insured and subsidiesed by the Federal Government who in turn can flaunt their love for green energy when election time comes and gain votes from unsuspecting and uneducated or brainwashed voters who don't realize that green energy, at this point in time, with the exception of nuclear power and that kind of green energy, as Japan just proved, can go thermo "neon green" in a jiffy, is completely not feasible, practical, affordable, efficient nor truly green for that matter.  ​ I recently took a 400 level Economics University course on Alternative Sources of Energy. ​ With the whole Global Warming, no wait - Global Cooling - wait again - Global Climate Change being such a big issue in the media, I think most American Universities feel they should help their students along by charging them an arm and a leg to study a whole lot of math, theory and what amounts really to nothing more than government business schemes - where the tax payers pay an enormous 18%-20% return on capital to already very rich individuals,​ investors who go on TV and push green energy pretending they'​re trying to help you by being altruistic with their billions when in fact they just want add to their billions but why take risk when they can get you to keep pressuring and keep voting for politicians who in turn will promise to pump billions of your money, the tax payers'​ money, for something that will not work as advertised nor is it needed right now or in the near future, but they have successfully convinced the masses and even smart individuals and politicians into thinking they need to help the planet by building such enormous and incredibily expensive and equally enormously inefficient alternative energy projects like wind farms with tax dollars because the money these "​caring investors"​ spend on these multi billion dollar projects are backed, insured and subsidiesed by the Federal Government who in turn can flaunt their love for green energy when election time comes and gain votes from unsuspecting and uneducated or brainwashed voters who don't realize that green energy, at this point in time, with the exception of nuclear power and that kind of green energy, as Japan just proved, can go thermo "neon green" in a jiffy, is completely not feasible, practical, affordable, efficient nor truly green for that matter.  ​
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 A quick word about the article below. ​ This was my answer to one of 3 presented Final Term Essay Questions - I chose the one I felt the most confident to get an A on.  Also, had I spewed my anger at the falsehoods of global warming-cooling-change I would have probably flunked the test and since the test was also timed I didn't have enough time to unload all of my anger anway so I did my best to answer the question in such a way that I would prove to the brilliant (truly was)Professor that I had a good understanding of the subject matter and that I believed alternative energy could prove useful and perhaps even competitive at some point in the future - albeit, my feelings are that it won't be anytime soon and quite frankly, it doesn'​t have to be as they are still finding massive oil and natural gas reserves on a near monthly basis to comfortably supply the world for additional hundreds of years. ​ But I digress, the next part of this write-up is meant to be a more objective and factual look at alternative energy and then everyone can choose what they want to believe just like I choose to believe what I see as the truth once I read all the pertinent information. ​ Thank you for reading and enjoy! A quick word about the article below. ​ This was my answer to one of 3 presented Final Term Essay Questions - I chose the one I felt the most confident to get an A on.  Also, had I spewed my anger at the falsehoods of global warming-cooling-change I would have probably flunked the test and since the test was also timed I didn't have enough time to unload all of my anger anway so I did my best to answer the question in such a way that I would prove to the brilliant (truly was)Professor that I had a good understanding of the subject matter and that I believed alternative energy could prove useful and perhaps even competitive at some point in the future - albeit, my feelings are that it won't be anytime soon and quite frankly, it doesn'​t have to be as they are still finding massive oil and natural gas reserves on a near monthly basis to comfortably supply the world for additional hundreds of years. ​ But I digress, the next part of this write-up is meant to be a more objective and factual look at alternative energy and then everyone can choose what they want to believe just like I choose to believe what I see as the truth once I read all the pertinent information. ​ Thank you for reading and enjoy!
  
-==Alternative Energy: ​ The Objective and Factually Educational Part==+==Wind Power==
  
-Exam Question ONE (only 1 Question)+Wind power has been used as an alternative energy source for a few decades now and it appears as though it’s about to really take off.  With all the private money, government subsidies and citizens going gaga over green energy wind power is set to receive hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming years. ​ And this isn’t just in the U.S. – Europe is jumping on the band wagon as well.  So is this the holy grail of alternative energy or are all the politicians trying to get votes while private investors are looking to make guaranteed above average returns, and in some cases obscene profits? ​  The numbers suggest that wind power is definitely a great “scheme” for investors and we all know politicians are hailed for their green initiatives.  ​
  
-During the course of this term had the opportunity to learn a lot regarding most of the potential alternative energy sources currently emerging and some which are on the horizon.  ​Out of all the possibilities I think the ones with the most promise are Wind powerSolar and Nuclear Fission.  ​I have to say however, ​that looking out 90 years from nowat the end of the century, there will most likely be nuclear fusion or some yet unknown super clean and abundant energy that will hopefully make energy free or close to free for everyone.  That’s ​what I envision at least.  ​I suppose I have a lot of faith in mankind’s ability to continue progressing and innovating at the same pace as it has in the last 90 years.  ​Since there is not much information on cold fusion or any other super source ​of energy ​I will focus on what is available today – mainly the 3 choices I named earlier.+By scheme ​mean that investors ​are currently looking for an 18% return ​on their investment in order to put their money up for wind power.  ​That’s quite high considering ​the much lower interest demanded for traditional energy investments (ie natural gascoal fired plants).  ​But that’s not allthrow in government subsidies in form of tax credits ​and a generous depreciation schedule and you have a great investment, for private investors at least. ​ On a 20 year wind farm private investors can realize potential tax free profits ​for as long as 15 years in some cases.  That’s ​a guaranteed 18% ROI – tax free.  ​To put things ​in perspective,​ Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor ​has an average return rate of around 20%, but that’s pretax so in theory investing in wind farms can potentially give you returns greater than that of the best investor in the world.  ​That’s a no brainer if you’re looking to put your money somewhere. ​ Perhaps that’s why billionaires around the globe, like T. Boone Pickens, are looking to invest billions ​of dollars in this alternative ​energy.
  
-Wind power has been used as an alternative ​energy ​source ​for a few decades now and it appears ​as though ​it’s about to really take off.  ​With ​all the private money, government subsidies and citizens going gaga over green energy wind power is set to receive hundreds ​of billions of dollars over the coming years And this isn’t just in the U.S. – Europe is jumping on the band wagon as well.  So is this the holy grail of alternative energy or are politicians trying to get votes and private investors looking to make guaranteed above average returns? ​  The numbers suggest that wind power is definitely ​a great “scheme” for investors and we all know politicians are hailed for their green initiatives. ​ By scheme I mean that investors are currently looking for an 18% return on their investment in order to put their money up for wind power. ​ That’s quite high considering the much lower interest demanded for traditional ​energy investments ​(ie natural gas, coal fired plants).  ​But that’s not all, throw in government subsidies ​in form of tax credits ​and generous depreciation ​schedule and you have a great investment, for private investors at least. ​ On 20 year wind farm private investors can realize potential tax free profits for as long as 15 years in some cases. ​ That’s a guaranteed 18% ROI – tax free.  To put things in perspective,​ Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor has an average return rate of around 20%, but that’s pretax so in theory investing in wind farms can potentially give you returns greater than that of the best investor in the world. ​ Thats a no brainer if you’re looking to put your money somewhere.  ​Perhaps that’s why billionaires around the globelike T. Boone Pickens, are looking ​to invest billions of dollars in this alternative energy.+So is wind energy ​as good for the consumer ​and the public as good as it is for the private investor? ​ ​With ​a ''​levelized capital charge cost'' ​of approximately 6.4 cents plus another 1.6 cents for operation ​and maintenance (implicit transmission charge), ​wind power is definitely ​more expensive than traditional ​coal fired (5.3 cents/kWh), or natural gas sources (closer to 3.5 cents/kWh).  ​One can argue that most citizens wouldnt mind paying a couple extra cents per kilowatt ​in order to reduce their carbon footprint but the real question is – what if the government subsidies and generous depreciation ​schedules were not there? ​ Would wind power still be viable alternative energy? ​ My guess is probably not – but since everyone seems to be in on this alternative source ​of energy I really dont think it will be going away.  ​And who knowswith so much money being pumped into this particular source they may eventually find new techniques and along with economies of scale to be able to reduce the price per kilowatt
  
-So is wind energy as good for the consumer, the public good as good as it is for the private investor? ​ With a levelized capital charge cost of approximately 6.4 cents plus another 1.6 cents for operation and maintenance (implicit transmission charge), wind power is definitely more expensive than traditional coal fired (5.3 cents/kWh), or natural gas sources. ​ One can argue that most citizens wouldn’t mind paying a couple extra cents per kilowatt in order to reduce their carbon footprint but the real question is – what if the government subsidies and generous depreciation schedules were not there? ​ Would wind power still be a viable alternative energy? ​ My guess is probably not – but since everyone seems to be in on this alternative source of energy I really don’t think it will be going away.  And who knows, with so much money being pumped into this particular source they may eventually find new techniques and along with economies of scale be able to reduce the price per kilowatt. ​ 
  
-Solar power is the conversion ​of sunlight ​into electricity. ​ As such, solar power is by far the earth’s most abundant source of natural energy. ​ Sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaic (PV).  ​Just to put the potential ​of this technology into perspective, if we were to cover just 4% of the world’s desert area with PV we would be able to supply all of the world’s energy. ​ So why don’t we do it, why hasn’t been done yet?  There are a few issues ​which have prevented ​this alternative energy ​source ​from really taking off.  First, much like wind energy solar energy is non-dispatchable. ​ Second, the installation costs are very high which prevents the less developed countries from introducing this technology. ​ Through new research ​and development,​ higher economies of scale, and an improved learning curve costs have been coming down while the efficiency ​of PV has been going up.  This trend is what makes solar energy a real potential alternative to traditional energy sources. ​ Very large solar farms have been proposedsuch as the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farmand the 600 MW Rancho Cielo Solar Farm.  With Solar operation and maintenance costs are also high which for a politician means jobs but looking long term this may not be such a good thing. ​ Removing citizens from other potential jobs could be a problem in a tight job market and with high labor costs solar energy will have a tough job competing with other energy sources. ​ In the short run however, politicians like to tout these jobs as a bonus given that we’re experience such high unemployment right now.  ​+==Solar Power== 
 +Solar power is the process ​of converting light energy from the sun into peak electricity ​via solar panels.  As one would expect, solar power is a major clean energy frontrunner as the Sun's light is the earth’s most abundant source of natural energy. ​ Sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaic (PV).  ​To get a grasp of how powerful ​the Sun'​s ​potential ​is, if we were to cover just 4% of the world’s desert area with PV we would be able to supply all of the world’s energy. ​ So why don’t we do it, why are we fighting billion dollar wars instead?  There are a few key problems ​which have stopped ​this clean alternative energy from really taking off.  First, much like wind energy solar energy is ''​non-dispatchable''​.  Second, the installation costs and the sheer cost of so many solar panelsat this point, are so high that most nations wouldn'​t ​be able to afford it, although I'm sure it would be less costly than all the wars being fought over oil.  ​
  
-So what is the $ cost per installed kWh of capacity for solar? ​ First thing to remember is that solar panels come in wattsa measure ​of electrical power. Accordinglyprices are often quoted in dollars per wattnot the usually KWhA quick way to get ball park price range is to assume you’ll pay between $8 and $10 per watt, including the inverter, labor and wiringA 2.8 kW residential ​solar energy systemfor example, could consist of 10, 280-watt solar panels (10 panels X 280 watts/panel = 2,800 watts, or 2.8 kilowatts). Applying ​the rule of thumb abovetotal installed costs could run anywhere from $22,400 to $28,000. In practice, you’d pay 30 percent less this amount, thanks to the federal renewable energy tax creditIn addition, any state- ​and/or utility-sponsored solar incentives available in your area may reduce out-of-pocket costs even further. ​ This is an example of residential cost – on larger scale, for commercial use the costs can be more appealing.  ​Again, much like with wind power, if one were to take away the government subsidies this alternative source would have a much more difficult time competing with traditional ​energy sources. ​ In the long run however, ​given all of the money and government support going into solar energy, the technology should keep improving while costs will continue ​to decrease. ​ This is why I believe solar power will be able to compete, over the next 20 years, and beyond, with fossil fuels.  +Through new research and developmenthigher economies ​of scaleand an improved learning curvecosts have been coming down while the efficiency of PV has been going up This trend is what makes solar energy ​real potential alternative ​to traditional energy sources ​Larger ​solar farms have been designedsuch as the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farmand the 600 MW Rancho Cielo Solar Farm With Solar operation ​and maintenance ​costs are also high which for politician means jobs but looking long term this may not be such a good thing.  ​Removing citizens from other potential jobs could be a problem in a tight job market and with high labor costs solar energy will have a tough job competing with other energy sources. ​ In the short run however, ​politicians like to tout these jobs as bonus given that we’re experiencing such high unemployment right now.  ​
-  +
-Nuclear power is designed to extract energy from atomic nuclei through nuclear reactions. The only method in use today is through nuclear fission (the splitting of atoms). All utility-scale reactors heat water to produce steam, which is then converted into mechanical energy for the purpose of generating electricity. In 2007, 14% of the world'​s electricity came from nuclear power. Electricity was generated for the first time by nuclear reactor on December 20, 1951 at the experimental station near Arco, Idaho, which initially produced about 100 kW (the Arco Reactor was also the first to experience partial meltdown, in 1955).  ​The world'​s first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall in Sellafield, England was opened in 1956 with an initial capacity of 50 MW (later 200 MW).  The first commercial nuclear generator to become operational in the United States was the Shippingport Reactor (Pennsylvania,​ December, 1957). ​ Installed nuclear capacity initially rose relatively quickly, rising from less than 1 Gigawatt (GW) in 1960 to 100 GW in the late 1970s, and 300 GW in the late 1980s. Since the late 1980s worldwide capacity has risen much more slowly, reaching 366 GW in 2005. Between around 1970 and 1990, more than 50 GW of capacity was under construction (peaking at over 150 GW in the late 70s and early 80s) — in 2005, around 25 GW of new capacity was planned. More than two-thirds of all nuclear plants ordered after January 1970 were eventually cancelled.+
  
-Nuclear energy is almost taboo here in America. ​ Nobody wants to seriously consider it as a feasible alternative energy, even though its levelized cost is nearly half of coal energy at around 3.2 cents per kWh.  This is not the case in other countries. ​ In France and Japan, two countries that were very oil dependent in the 70’s during the oil crisis, have come to accept the wide use of nuclear power plants. ​ In Japan nuclear power provides approximately 30% of the country’s power while in France it’s closer to 80%.  France is by far the highest user of Nuclear Power with nearly 60 nuclear power plants. ​ Furthermore,​ 70% of French citizens have positive things to say about nuclear power which makes it quite a popular alternative source of energy. ​ In addition, France is the world'​s largest net exporter of electric power, exporting 18% of its total production (about 100 TWh) to Italy, the Netherlands,​ Britain, and Germany, and its electricity cost is among the lowest in Europe. ​ After reading the success France has had with Nuclear power I have to ask why the U.S., the most powerful nation in the world, has fallen so behind in this advanced technology. ​ Is it public opinion or is it politics. ​ It’s no secret that the world’s largest oil companies reside in America so perhaps it is their strong lobbyists that have swayed public opinion or made politicians shy away from such a cheap and powerful ​ alternative energy source. ​ The more I read about this technology the more I feel that it is the best possible alternative energy right now with much lower installed capacity costs, much lower levelized costs and relatively low risk.  ​ 
-Looking out a bit further the best thing is nuclear power but instead of the more unstable and risky nuclear fission we are on the brink of nuclear fusion (2 atomic nuclei fuse together).  ​ 
  
-While fusion power is not expected to be feasible ​for many more decades, France has shown promise ​to be a forerunner ​in the technology by winning the bid to host the ITER reactor in Cadarache. The ITERdesigned to produce several times more fusion ​power than the power put into the plasma over many minute, should start actual fusion around 2016 ​Unlike nuclear fissionfusion ​is much safer and it brings ​the risks generally associated with nuclear power plants down to near zero The primary reason the lower risk is that the fission products in a fission reactor continue to generate heat through beta-decay ​for several hours or even days after reactor shut-downmeaning that a meltdown is possible even after the reactor has been stopped. In contrastfusion requires precisely controlled conditions of temperaturepressure and magnetic field parameters in order to generate net energyIf the reactor were damagedthese parameters would be disrupted and the heat generation ​in the reactor would rapidly cease+So what is the'''''​$'''''​ cost per installed kWh of capacity ​for solar? ​ First thing to remember is that solar panels come in wattsa measure of electrical ​power. ​Accordinglyprices are often quoted in watts not KWh. A quick way to get a ball park price range is to assume you’ll pay between $8 and $10 per watt, including ​the parts, labor and wiringA 3.6 kW residential solar energy system, ​for example, could consist of 12, 280-watt solar panels (12 panels X 280 watts/panel = 3,600 watts, or 3.6 kilowatts).((http://​www.getsolar.com/​blog/​solar-panels-measuring-cost/​1142/​)) Using the above method, total installed costs could run anywhere from roughly $28,000 to $32,000. In realityyou’d pay roughly 30 percent less than this quoted amountthanks ​to federal tax creditsIn additionthere are always state or local subsidies which you can deduct on your taxes, as solar incentives, so check in your state in order to reduce your personal expenses
  
-As far as the sustainability ​of nuclear fusionfusion power produces no high-level radioactive waste (though activated plant materials still need to be disposed of). There are some power plant ideas which may significantly lower the cost or size of such plants; however, research in these areas is nowhere near as advanced as in tokomaks.  ​Furthermorefusion ​power commonly proposes the use of deuteriuman isotope of hydrogen, as fuel and in many current designs also uses lithium. Assuming a fusion energy output equal to the 1995 global power output of about 100 EJ/yr (= 1 x 1020 J/yr) and that this does not increase in the future, then the known current lithium reserves ​would last 3000 years, lithium from sea water would last 60 million years, and a more complicated fusion process using only deuterium from sea water would have fuel for 150 billion years.  ​To put this in context150 billion years is over ten times the currently measured age of the universeand is close to 30 times the remaining lifespan of the sun.+This is an example ​of residential cost – on a larger scalefor commercial use the costs can be more appealing.  ​Againmuch like with wind power, ​if one were to take away the government subsidies ​this alternative source ​would have much more difficult time competing with traditional energy sources.  ​In the long run howevergiven all of the money and government support going into solar energythe technology should keep improving while costs will continue to decrease. ​ This is why I believe solar power will be able to compete, over the next 20 years, and beyond, with fossil fuels 
  
-So what is being done to advance this promising technology? ​ Well, here in the U.S. not very much, but the Europeans are embracing nuclear fusion much like they did nuclear fission, and why not, fission seems to have worked out really well for them.  While fusion power is still in early stages of development,​ substantial sums have been and continue to be invested in research. In the EU almost € 10 billion was spent on fusion research up to the end of the 1990s, and the new ITER reactor alone is budgeted at € 10 billion. It is estimated that up to the point of possible implementation of electricity generation by nuclear fusion, R&D will need further promotion totaling around € 60-80 billion over a period of 50 years or so (of which € 20-30 billion within the EU).  Nuclear fusion research receives € 750 million (excluding ITER funding), compared with € 810 million for all non-nuclear energy research combined, putting research into fusion power well ahead of that of any single rivaling technology. 
  
-It is too difficult to predict the levelized cost or installed capacity cost for nuclear fusion this early on but given that the inputs for nuclear fusion are plentiful, relatively cheap, no highly reactive matter to dispose of, extremely efficient and backed by billions of Euros in research money I would say that this technology is the forerunner in providing the world’s energy in the next 50 to 100 years, after fossil fuels are completely exhausted. ​ As for the other alternative sources of energy, well, I doubt they’ll be completely gone in 100 years. ​ They will most likely be around but will not be thought of as true alternatives,​ not when you have much more advanced, compact and cheaper technology like nuclear fusion.+==Nuclear Power== 
 +Nuclear power is designed to draw energy through the release of energy which an atom puts out when there is ''​Nuclear Fission''​(atoms split in two) or ''​Nuclear Fusion''​ (two atoms are fused together) which are commonly known as nuclear reactions. The only method in use today is through ''​nuclear fission''​. All nuclear reactors work very much like coal, they heat water to produce steam, which then is turned into mechanical energy which can then be turned into electrity. In 2011, 18% of the world'​s electricity came from nuclear power. ​ The very first time electricity was generated by a nuclear reactor was on December 20, 1951 at the experimental plant in Arco, Idaho, which at first outputted only about 100 kW (the Arco Reactor was naturally the first reactor to experience a partial meltdown, which happened in 1955).((http://​www.euronuclear.org/​info/​encyclopedia/​n/​nuclear-power-plant-world-wide.htm))  
 + 
 + 
 +Nuclear energy is almost taboo here in America. ​ Nobody wants to seriously consider it as a feasible alternative energy, even though its levelized cost is nearly half of coal energy at around 3.2 cents per kWh.  This is not the case in other countries. ​ In France and Japan, two countries that were very oil dependent in the 70’s during the oil crisis, have come to accept the wide use of nuclear power plants. ​ In Japan nuclear power provides approximately 30% of the country’s power while in France it’s closer to 80%.  France is by far the highest user of Nuclear Power with nearly 60 nuclear power plants. ​  
 + 
 +Furthermore,​ the large majority of French citizens have positive things to say about nuclear power which, unlike here in the US, makes it a very popular alternative source of energy. ​ One has to take into account the catastrophe caused by the meltdowns in Japan in recent years and one answer to that is that they did not have a plan for a possible tsunami which in their area - there should have been a contingency plan where a secondary cooling mechanism should have been installed to prevent a core meltdown. ​ If all possible scenarios are though of then there can be a contingency plan put in place for all potential meltdown situations. 
 + 
 +In addition, France, thanks to its many nuclear power plants, is the biggest net exporter of energy out all the EU countries, exporting about 45 TWh to other nations such as: Italy, the Netherlands,​ Britain, and Germany, and France'​s citizens enjoy the lowest electricity costs in the EU.((http://​www.world-nuclear.org/​info/​Country-Profiles/​Countries-A-F/​France/#​.UZ9MfePn_IU)) ​ After reading the success France has had with Nuclear power I have to ask why the U.S., the most powerful nation in the world, has fallen so behind in this advanced technology. ​ Is it public opinion or is it politics. ​ It’s no secret that the world’s largest oil companies reside in America so perhaps it is their strong lobbyists that have swayed public opinion or made politicians shy away from such a cheap and powerful ​ alternative energy source. ​ The more I read about this technology the more I feel that it is the best possible alternative energy right now with much lower installed capacity costs, much lower levelized costs and relatively low risk.  Well, one has to take into account unforeseen events as those which happened in Japan, but France has taken all precautions and so far they have had no issues. 
 + 
 +==Conclusion & a Look Into the Future== 
 + 
 +Looking out a bit further the best thing is nuclear power but instead of the more unstable and risky nuclear fission, which is what we have today, we are on the brink of ''​Nuclear Fusion''​ (2 atoms fused together). ​ Fusion power is not expected to be ready for many more decades but that hasn't stopped the EU from charging for the top spot in research where France has shown the most promise in this technology by winning the bid to host the ITER reactor in Cadarache.((http://​www.nature.com/​news/​2003/​031127/​full/​news031124-8.html)) The ITER, specifically designed to produce considerably more fusion power than the inputs (power) put into the plasma, should hopefully begin fusion in around 2016.  Unlike nuclear fission, fusion is much safer and it greatly reduces the risks associated with nuclear power plants down to near zero.  Especially when one thinks about the disaster which hit Japan recently, whatever stigma nuclear power had before has really increased as of late.  The biggest reason for the lower risk is because fission inputs in a fission reactor continue output massive heat due to beta-decay for several hours or even days after the reactor is shut-down, which, of course, means that a meltdown is probable when the reactor has been stopped. In contrast, fusion needs controlled and exact conditions of such parameters as pressure, temperature and the actual magnetic field in order to create the necessary needed energy. ​ If one were to damage the reactor, you would not get the meltdown of a fission nuclear reactor, you would get a situation where the predetermined parameters would no longer be valid and so the heat generation in the reactor, which depends on those parameters and inputs, would then rapidly cease.  
 + 
 + 
 +As far as the sustainability of nuclear fusion, fusion power results in no radio active by-products (though radio active plant materials still need to be disposed of). There are various designs in the works which, in the future, may significantly reduce the cost and size of such power plants. ​ In addition, nuclear fusion uses deuterium, where nuclear fission uses radio active materials such as enriched uranium. ​ Deuterium uses  an isotope of hydrogen, an element easily found in Ocean sea water, as fuel and there are current designs which allows it to use the metal element, Lithium. Assuming a fusion energy output equal to the 2008 global power output of about 474 EJ/yr (Exajoules per year).((https://​en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​World_energy_consumption)) ​ Assuming all things remain equal in the future, this would mean the current lithium reserves would last approximately 3000 years, and if one were to consider sea water, that particular source of lithium would last 60 million years, and there is currently a new design which only uses deuterium, also from sea water, which would then provide fuel for 150 billion years.((https://​en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​Nuclear_fusion)) ​ To give one a better understanding of how much time we're talking about, 150 billion years is over thirty times the proposed expected life-span of the sun, easily enough time to figure out other way to get more fuel or master the engineering of space travel in search of a new galaxy. ​ With that kind of time on our hands, presuming we don't blow the entire planet up, anything is possible - one only need look at the marvels of science and engineering of the last 100 years. ​  
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 +So what is being done to advance this promising technology? ​ Well, here in the U.S. not very much, but the Europeans are embracing nuclear fusion much like they did nuclear fission, and why not, fission seems to have worked out really well for them.  While fusion power is still in early stages of development,​ substantial sums have been and continue to be invested in research. In the EU, 360 Billion Euros has been budgeted for next year, a massive amount by a single effort.((http://​www.reuters.com/​article/​2012/​04/​13/​eu-research-idUSL6E8FC6W620120413)) The latest estimates show that the additional research needed for Nuclear Fusion up to the point of implementation of actual energy generation will cost around € 60-80 billion over the next 50 years or so (of which nearly half is projected to be in the EU).  Nuclear fusion research receives nearly as much funding (excluding ITER funding), compared to all non-nuclear energy research combined, which is nearly 1 Billion Euros per year, which in turn puts research into fusion well ahead of any clean energy alternative and with kind of effort, if the US would simply match it, we would get there in time for our children to enjoy a new revolution, the energy revolution and just like the green and industrial revolution reshaped our worlds an energy revolution would do just the same, make this world a much different and better place for everyone to live in. 
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 +It is too difficult to predict the levelized cost or installed capacity cost for nuclear fusion this early on but given that the inputs for nuclear fusion are plentiful(ie. sea water), relatively cheap, no highly reactive matter to dispose of, extremely efficient and backed by billions of Euros in research money I would say that this technology is the forerunner in providing the world’s energy in the next 50 to 100 years, after fossil fuels are completely exhausted. ​ As for the other alternative sources of energy, well, I doubt they’ll be completely gone in 100 years. ​ They will most likely be around but will not be thought of as true alternatives,​ not when you have much more advanced, compact and cheaper technology like nuclear fusion. 
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 +- ''​Maximilian Wilhelm''​ 
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 +==Citations==
  
  
  
--  Maximilian Wilhelm 

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