The uncertainty about the timing of fusion energy commercialisation is like the Sword of Damocles hanging over new electricity investments. Anyone who builds a nuclear or coal plant today faces game-changing competition from cheap fusion energy, possibly within 20 years.
Partly as a result of this uncertainty, investment in new nuclear plants has languished. Safety issues are not a serious obstacle, despite the common perception. The accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima involved first-generation plants designed decades ago. Such accidents are close to impossible in newer plants which are now into the fourth generation. Despite these accidents, the total loss of life from nuclear energy per unit of electricity production has been far lower than from other energy sources.
The real obstacle to nuclear energy today is its economic viability. Cost over-runs, waste storage costs and the need for subsidies in some cases have put brakes on large scale nuclear expansion. Read More