Nuclear fusion will not provide an answer to the medium-term “sacrifice” the world population will have to endure to get to net-zero carbon emission by 2050 — the target for keeping average global heating within the 1.5˚C margin.
However, the potential source of atomic energy does promise to offer citizens “hope” for sustainable economic expansion in the second half of the 21st century, after the period of climate change sacrifice, said Tim Luce, head of science and operation at ITER, the world’s largest fusion experiment relying on magnetic confinement.
ITER is attempting to generate energy by replicating the process that takes place on the Sun, where hydrogen nuclei collide, fuse into heavier helium atoms and release the leftover mass as energy. The experiment hopes to generate sustained fusion reactions and use them to produce limitless clean energy.
Luce told the committee the UK would be unlikely to be able to provide even 10 percent of its electricity from fusion by 2050. “I think the answer is clearly no – we don’t have the industrial capacity. We don’t have the fuel-making capacity to do that,” he said.