In the U.K., energy developers are making plans to choose a site for the world’s first fusion power plant. As with most fusion projects, this milestone is likely at least a decade away, and the site in question will be less than one half square mile—not exactly a high bar to clear, though complicated by its need to be adjacent to the existing grid. But is this actually a real step, or is just energy pageantry? There’s bureaucracy at play here, first and foremost. Getting far ahead of choosing sites is smart, especially when a fusion power plant will be one of the very first of its kind in the world. That means making new regulatory materials, doing environmental suitability testing, and much, much more. This site will theoretically hold the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), a next-generation tokamak fusion reactor planned for breaking ground in 2030 and productive fusion in 2040. STEP itself has been in the works for a decade, with previous efforts followed by a fallow period and a series of conceptual renovations. Now, its makers say, it’s the most cutting-edge tokamak design in the running for the first feasible fusion power plant idea. That said, planning and building it is still expected to cost more than $2.5 billion. New Scientist reports that experts say the cost per megawatt of this plant is five times what a traditional fission plant costs.
Popular Mechanics 2nd Dec 2020 read more »