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The hair shirt eco-elite don’t want pain-free fusion power

My article for The Telegraph:Fusion energy is coming. Last week’s announcement of a significant energy yield from the Joint European Torus in Oxfordshire is just a milestone on the path but all the signs are that there’s probably going to be reliable fusion power on tap some time in the next decade thanks to breakthroughs in superconductivity.Also, private money is pouring into fusion, which has forced the public projects to speed up, as it did with genomics.

It would be a foolish person who repeated Ernest Rutherford’s clanger of 1933 about nuclear fission: “Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of the atom is talking moonshine.”True, there is every chance we will make a mess of the opportunity by adopting an extreme precautionary approach to regulation. In the case of nuclear (fission) power, we bound it into such a straitjacket of cumbersome rules that we ended up making it a lot more expensive, slightly less safe and incapable of even trying new designs that might bring down the price and drive the safety even higher.

Innovation should have rendered both Chernobyl and Fukushima redundant long before they blew up, and Hinkley is going to be grotesquely, needlessly costly. If we make a similar unforced error with fusion, forget it.But fusion is very different from fission, producing vastly less radioactive material and almost no long-term waste.

It cannot melt down or blow up. So regulating it is simpler: treat it like any other industrial facility and set up the regulation to give quick decisions, be flexible and focus on the safe outcome not the process of getting there.

telegraph Energy Environment

Ernest Rutherford

www.rationaloptimist.comwww.rationaloptimist.com

telegraph: Readers Choice

My article for The Telegraph:Fusion energy is coming. Last week’s announcement of a significant energy yield from the Joint European Torus in Oxfordshire is just a milestone on the path but all the signs are that there’s probably going to be reliable fusion power on tap some time in the next decade thanks to breakthroughs in superconductivity.Also, private money is pouring into fusion, which has forced the public projects to speed up, as it did with genomics.
My article for the Telegraph:The news that Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation, is to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing is baffling on a number of levels. Has he not got a day job to do? There is a pandemic on.“Sources close to” him say it would be a “political statement to turn down the invitation”, which indicates ludicrous delusions of grandeur: he is a bureaucrat, not a head of state, let alone a “dignitary”.But if Adhanom Ghebreyesus does want to play the politician, with most Western governments boycotting the games, his attendance shows an alarming complacency about the persecution of the Uyghurs, the crushing of freedom in Hong Kong and the lack of transparency in finding the source of Covid-19.It is worth listing the ways in which the Chinese authorities have failed to help the WHO do its job over the past two years.

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