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Fusion... A Bridge to Nowehere?

Year Published:  1980  
Resource Type:  Article

Abstract:  This article, one among several on nuclear energy in the October issue of The Energy File, questions the growing assumptions that nuclear fusion is the "safe" energy path to the future at a time when British Columbia is being seriously considered as the site of the world's first poerating fusion reactor.

Especially because fusion produces no long lived radioactive isotopes except tritium, which is recycled as fuel and the worst malfunction would mean not meltdown (as in fission) but in the dissipation of intense heat, some consider it "safe."

The article's focus is on the source of the "safe" theory. It arrives at this focus by first noting that it will be at least ten years before the world has its first test fusion reactor and that the dollar investment per job generated does not look good.

The author accepts that there are two alternative future energy distribution systems: electrical or solar, the one highly centralized, the other largely decentralized. And the electrical future is being favoured because the oil companies own the coal and uranium bridge fuels needed to develop this alternative further; hydro utilities see the financial gain; and governments are bending to the enormous oil and hydro lobbies.

The article ends tongue in cheek, wondering whether the electrical option is better, when it implies centralized, technologically fragile energy system that has historically not laboured to keep rates down, unemployment low, and the standards of living high.

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