“Scientists plan to ignite tiny man-made star. It is science’s star experiment: an attempt to create an artificial sun on earth — and provide an answer to the world’s impending energy shortage”……..
….drools the headline of Telegraph Science Correspondent, Richard Gray’s article article – 27 Dec 2008
A cynic would say this is part of the ongoing “distraction robbery” being carried out by the energy and motor industry – “don’t worry – we’ll sort out the energy problem (we’ve got various wheezes up our sleeves – fusion, fuel cells, hydrogen just around the corner) meantime keep shelling out on far more of the stuff than you would need if the governments and / or us, the energy utilities funded the already existing and far more cost effective energy conservation schemes, or invested in already available and proven renewable energy schemes such as wind energy along with further grid interconnections, and more high efficiency local CHP/DH schemes.
It is highly unlikely say some commentators, that even supposing such experiments, for that is all they presently are, do work, and do ultimately yield a viable power source, it will take at least half a century to begin mass construction and decades further before any impact can be made on our present need for fossil fuels and start to cut carbon gases. This is inevitable due to the vast scale of these projects- this one takes up several football fields, and consequently entails long lead times in designing, building, testing then up scaling, each step of which can take decades.
At present, the only way any heat which may be generated by the fusion scheme can be converted into electricity is to use a standard power station type steam boiler and steam turbine – which presently which run on fossil heat. These existing power station furnaces and boilers are relatively cheap so it is only the furnace and fuel that this fusion is supposed to replace at less cost. How this collection of hi tech lasers, mirrors, high vacuum, radiation shielding, massive concrete walls, and so on, is supposed to be cheaper than say the solar mirror fields which also can replace heat supplied to a steam turbine by fossil fuel burning, and which have been powering Nevada Solar one since the seventies, or which are planned for the Sahara linked to Europe by HVDC lines is hard to see.
The gushing science correspondent doesn’t bother to consider these obvious issues and swallows the whole press release fairly uncritically – no doubt one of the reasons newspapers are going out of business.