A guest editorial by Thomas Fuller on the site “Watts Up With That” notes he was right about 2 big issues well ahead of the crowd (I’ll let you read to discover what they were!), and says he has the same kind of intuition/vision now about global energy demand. In a nutshell, he says it will be 2-4X the accepted predictions for 2030-35. The article then goes on to discuss how that could/will be met. (See att. graph) Lots of good comments, with a number of references to fusion, culminating in a comment by Dave Springer that materials science will never be able to produce substances able to withstand fusion energies. I commented then, as follows:
Dave S. is correct to state that materials able to withstand fusion are not going to happen. This, IMO, rules out what I call the “meso-fusion” (human-scale) regime. Stellar mega-fusion and micro-fusion remain. Until we become a Type II civilization, able to harness the full output of our star, mega-fusion is not accessible (as a direct tool; I’m not talking about converting radiant energy to electricity). But micro-fusion, now ….
There is a firm, LPP, Inc., which is working with a process called Focus Fusion. Containment is magnetic, within a sub-microscopic “plasmoid” generated by kinking a magnetic filament in plasma just so. It is completing its preliminary D-D calibration runs and tweaks now, and will be moving into the final proton-Boron11 regime within a couple of months. This is a waste-free, non-neutron-emitting fusion. It claims to have solved (in theory and simulation) the X-ray cooling problem by tuning the High Magnetic Field Effect some had predicted so that electron heating is minimized.
It won’t be free, but the planned “product” is a 5MW generator installed in about the housing size of a home garage, with capital per-watt costs and output pricing at source per kwh both around 1/20 of current best N.A. retail, or maybe 1/50 of European prices. It is easily adapted to distributed generation, and could end up bypassing most of the current grid, if necessary.
Timeline around 3-5 years to come up with a proven licensable design, to be made openly available at reasonable prices to all manufacturers wanting to produce and distribute it, world-wide.
The growth in demand and use he is predicting is staggering; given availability of FF, I suspect he may even be low by another factor of 2 or so!
Here’s a few similar graphs from a recent talk I went to, showing demand from OECD, FSE(Former Soviet Union), and developing countries (primarily made up of India & China). Its a bit of and odd split, but shows a similar rise in demand. It assumed OECD rise in demand would be offset against efficiency savings
The other one is a different mix of energy production from an EDFA/TIMES model – it weighs a little too heavy to wind in my opinion. It also assumed fusion would not be cost effective until the availability of cheap uranium becomes a factor in 2090 or so.