Step into the nuclear future Blog What if fusion became commercial?

By GE Look ahead Posted February 24, 2015

Nuclear fusion, says Stephen Hawking, could “provide an inexhaustible supply of energy, without pollution or global warming”. The technology’s promises are many, but how would the arrival of commercial fusion affect the design of our energy system?

The first thing to note is that while the fuel (hydrogen) will be free, the plant itself will not. Whichever technology ends up on the market first—centralised like the ITER project or decentralised like the ones Lockheed Martin or General Fusion are pursuing—commercial fusion will be a capital-intensive, low-operational-cost business. In that sense, it resembles a typical renewable energy plant of today.

One segment small fusion units might be able to enter more easily is the production of heat for industrial applications. “There are some interesting possibilities there, especially early on in the adoption cycle, as utilities around the world tend to be highly regulated and risk-averse that they may not even be the first adopters” says Michael Delage, vice-president technology and corporate strategy at General Fusion.

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