The quest to find a cheap and inexhaustible way to meet global energy needs was given a boost when a 30-nation consortium chose France to host the world’s first nuclear fusion reactor. Opinions remain divided over whether nuclear fusion is safe and economically viable as a sustainable source of energy production.
Proponents of nuclear fusion claim that if it succeeds, the ITER project will result in a cost effective and potentially inexhaustible supply of energy that will eventually replace oil and gas altogether. Officials from the six-partner consortium predict that the project will create approximately 10,000 jobs and take eight years to build. An experimental reactor would then be fully operational by 2040.
Opponents argue that the project is purely experimental and that it will take at least 50 years before a commercially viable reactor is even built. Environmentalists are suggesting that despite being a more environmentally sound energy source than nuclear fission, fusion fuel is neither clean nor safe. Some scientists are estimating that the project could take three times longer than expected and environmental campaign group Greenpeace have stated that if the project yields any results at all, it will not be until the second half of this century. If the project is to proceed, the nation states comprising the consortium must also overcome differences on a number of issues, such as the extent of financing.