Bloomberg: Fusion Scientists see Progress as Obama Shows no Ardor
Rezwan Razani - May 03, 2013
The Bloomberg Markets article captures the challenges, promise, ambition and naysaying that are part and parcel of the fusion quest.
Bravo to Ed Moses, Mike Dunne and the NIF team for reaching out for private financing.
Edward Moses, the principal associate director for the NIF and Photon Science Directorate, wants to harness that energy for practical uses. He says Livermore could join with private companies to build an electricity-producing fusion power plant eight to 12 years after the NIF achieves ignition.
Mike Dunne, head of the NIF’s future plant designs, says a commercial-scale, 925-megawatt model could be built for about $4 billion. He estimates fusion-generated electricity would cost roughly the same as coal and nuclear power—about $108 per megawatt-hour. That’s about $24 more than natural gas and $44 less than photovoltaic solar cells.
Moses, 63, wants to raise $1.5 billion, partially from utilities and suppliers, to get commercial fusion technology ready. In a possible prototype, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PCG) and others agreed in December to pay the Livermore lab $150 million to use its supercomputers for improving California’s electricity grid. Wealthy individuals may contribute, and some have expressed interest, Moses says, declining to name them.
Detractors say cost estimates are meaningless because they involve technologies not yet invented.
“Moses is destroying his credibility,” says Burton Richter, a retired Stanford University physics professor.