The world really is a carbon fossil fuels based economy. It has given us all the modernity that the developed world enjoys. Coal, oil and natural gas are the main energy sources. Some nuclear fission, though radioactive environmental concerns linger. Renewables, mostly solar and wind are still far away from being a significant part of our main energy sources – and may never be. Carbon fossil fuels will not last forever and will get more costly as time goes on. Not to even consider what it might be doing to climate change, these carbon fossil fuel energy sources are a source of many human conflicts across the globe, as humans struggle to obtain and ration these resources. So the world will change from a carbon fossil fuel-based economy to some other fuel-based economy in the next 30 years, or perish as we know it. Some believe that this new energy source will be fusion power. Whatever it is, is and it will happen, it will be the most significant event in the next generation.
What are the critical success factors for this new energy source? It will be about power density and energy density. This difference comes from a source able to store more energy, and a source that can give off more power quickly. This was the beauty of carbon fossil fuels – they can store and give off energy in a small footprint, unlike renewables, which take large collector farms and inefficient storage technologies. Carbon fossil fuels are nearly 10 times better than renewables, though environmental concerns remain. Nuclear fission was promising, but again the radioactive environmental concerns remain.
To power, a new age of even greater modernity, power density, and energy density must be even better than carbon fossil fuels. For example, the vision of new drone technologies, robotic technologies, space travel and real-time localized just-in-time manufacturing (home Star trek replicators) will require this new energy source. Where do most of the energy source come from today? The sun – fusion power. Is this our answer? Well, it is the dream of many today. So much so, that collective government’s around the world are investing heavily into developing this technology.
What could be the most important project for the world today, the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – worth a click to see – second most expensive building project in the world at $25bn) project in France has set out the plan to accomplish the goal of fusion power. Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the sun and the stars, is a potential source of safe, non-carbon emitting and virtually limitless energy. Harnessing fusion’s power is the goal of ITER, which has been designed as the key experimental step between today’s fusion research machines and tomorrow’s fusion power plants. The key problem is that the energy required to contain the fusion plasma field is greater than the energy that it puts out. But they are close to cracking this problem, and reports are promising.
The ITER project is set to be completed by 2025. News Forecasters believes that eventually, they will be successful, though for sure they will be many delays and cost overruns. The ITER project is expensive, but one could imagine that instead of spending trillions of dollars on global wars, fighting over carbon fossil fuel resources – would it not be better to spend more money on projects like ITER? Despite the poor funding, we look for a confirmed breakthrough within the next five to 10 years – a real game-changer for the world.
After the ITER project, and if proven successful, think of the potential in further developments. The 180-hectare ITER site in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, southern France is huge – but what if one day a fusion reactor could be the size of a car battery that has 1000 times the power – after all cars will be flying drones by that time. Then there is the issue of the plasma in the fusion containment chamber which requires H3. Not found on earth in abundance, but is on the moon – so yes we will need space technology as well. Further development technologies are probably 15 to 30 years away.
News Forecasters are not one’s that believe that new technology will eliminate jobs rather increase them exponentially, as history has proven. This has the potential to create even greater expansion in new jobs than the industrial or information technology ages and fuel the global economy for centuries, all while improving modernity to unimaginable levels. The time frames given here are not promising, if humans wanted to, they could go faster. The risk, however, is that this slowly developing new exciting future gets surpassed by climate change concerns and/or governments fighting over the remaining carbon fossil fuel resources, which is progressing at a faster pace.
A video presentation of this subject: