back to article It's more than 20 years since Steps topped the charts. It could be less than that for STEP's first fusion energy

Fancy a fusion power plant in your back yard? The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is looking for comments from five locations shortlisted as potential hosts for its Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme. The five sites were whittled down from an initial 15 and community forums between 26 January and 10 …

  1. CrackedNoggin

    "The first phase of the programme is to produce a concept design by 2024. It will be a spherical tokamak, connected to the National Grid and producing net energy, although it is not expected to be a commercially operating plant at this stage."

    "Will" and not "might"? I didn't know it was that far along.

    1. censored

      It'll definitely be a spherical tokamak.

      It'll definitely be connected to the National Grid, since they'll want heating and lights in the offices.

      The producing net energy bit? I remain skeptical but excited.

    2. Zanzibar Rastapopulous

      Sounds dubious, has this design been demonstrated elsewhere?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Spherical? Sounds like balls to me.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Only one? Sounds like Hitler to me.

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I thought ....

    .... that commercial fusion was always 10 years away. Now they're telling me that it's 18 years away.

    Soon someone will be telling me that it's 90 million miles away!

    Do you need to ask? ------------>

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I thought ....

      Now, now sun...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I thought ....

        But it's solar ge and bright!

        1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
  3. John Hawkins

    Mixed feelings

    The Register spoke to Richard Dinan, CEO of Pulsar Fusion, who told us "2040 sounds about right" once one considers the infrastructure and sign-offs needed to build a power station.

    "That's what's taking the time," he said, "it's not the fusion."

    I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but it does suggest we're closing in on fusion reaching the business-as-usual state and getting bogged down the same way as other infrastructure changes do.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      Recent experience with Covid vaccination and treatments has shown that if the pressure is there it's possible to restructure the processes and shorten the overall time. Parallel processing can be fast; who knew!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Mixed feelings

        The problem with any form of nuclear power is no matter what colour government approves the budget, it's entirely possible a government of a different colour will grab the credit when the long term project finally comes to fruition. That's a major downside of short term democracy. They rarely look past the next election.

        1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
          Paris Hilton

          BIkes

          commissioned : Ken

          credit : some dumb blonde ?barbie

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Mixed feelings

          "no matter what colour government ".

          I know you don't think about it but you actually reveal the lunacy of a two party system.

          No country should ever be run by a government of just one party, those systems are for countries like North Korea and China and damn it still for most English speaking countries and does it show.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Mixed feelings

            Are you suggesting that Parliament should be hung?

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              hung

              'Hanged'...

              1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                Re: Mixed feelings

                Yup. Drawn, Hanged, and Quartered. Attached to a hurdle and dragged through the streets, hanged by the neck until dead, then divided and the quarters distributed and displayed for the populace.

                Hung, Drawn, and Quartered, instead, specifies that MPs will be fitted with large penises before being sketched in pencil by the parliamentary artist, then found somewhere to sleep.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      "I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but it does suggest we're closing in on fusion reaching the business-as-usual state and getting bogged down the same way as other infrastructure changes do."

      If siting and building one is anything like the fission process, every one will be unique and take 10 years longer and cost 1000% more than expected, therefore can never be "business-as-usual", production line type construction. Not forgetting all the anti-nuclear protestors digging tunnels and living in trees, dragging every tiny little detail of objection through ever higher and higher courts despite their track record of losing every time.

  4. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Unhappy

    To be Prufrockian

    I grow old … I grow old …

    The first announcement of successful fusion(*) came when my age could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Now I do not expect to see continuously operating fusion reactors, never mind commercial ones, before I die.

    (*) It wasn't.

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Go

      Re: To be Prufrockian

      Fusion has been successful for decades, and was first demonstrated in 1932.

      It's had commercial use for a lot of that time in all sorts of ways...

      Power generation however is not one of those uses, yet!

      1. Trotts36

        Re: To be Prufrockian

        Main uses - something for phd wielding institutionalised dolts to waste time and money on…

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: To be Prufrockian

        Fusion is the easy part

        Holding a plasma for meaningful periods is the hard part. 15 minutes is the record

        Achieving unity is another target which has only been beaten for a few seconds at a time and only at chamber energy in/out levels - not gross energy in/recoverable work. What's needed isn't unity in the chamber but 100k:1 to 1M:1 ratios and for sustained periods (hours, not minutes)

        History is littered with promising technology which never made it out of the laboratory and internal combustion engines which only made barely enough power to spin themselves

        Every "failure" is a learning experience (something accountants and politicians fail to grasp), but I think commercial fusion power is still 60+ years away from being a reality. In the meantime China and others are forging ahead with SAFE fission power systems such as molten Salt technology (Wuwei and others)

        (Anyone who thinks molten sodium is safe needs to have their head examined. That's the technology that actually has the "cracking pipes" and serious corrosion issues erronously attributed to salt tech and a coolant which explodes if it contacts water/burns furiously in contact with air isn't a bright idea even in the non-nuclear side of the equation - as they found out at ~Monju. Nuclear proponents need to learn the mantra of "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD" and take chemical safety into consaideration)

      3. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
        Boffin

        Terms of reference

        Hmmm

        fusion has been demonstrated throughout the evolution of the planet.

        and a long time before

        JWST is looking for some of the earliest evidence.

        If you mean human initiated.. 1932 is correct!

        My 2nd favourite T-shirt seen in a Chicago airport : A Day without fusion is a day without sunshine!

        My 1st?

        spoiler

        We demand time travel!

        When do we want it?

        It's irrelevant!

        (dons multicoloured scarf, ducks, runs and hides..)

    2. tony72

      Re: To be Prufrockian

      I don't know, the pace really seems to have picked up in recent years, with so many different entities working on far more practical designs than the likes of ITER (which is basically obsolete), and huge amounts of investment. The 2040 timeframe actually seems unambitious, compared to some projects out there.

  5. Lars Silver badge
    Coat

    Quite a lot going on

    Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is a spherical tokamak fusion plant concept proposed by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and funded by UK government.[1][2][3] The project is a proposed DEMO-class successor device to the ITER tokamak proof-of-concept of a fusion plant, the most advanced tokamak fusion reactor to date, which is scheduled to achieve a 'burning plasma' in 2035. STEP aims to produce net electricity from fusion on a timescale of 2040. The UK government is presently searching for a suitable site.

    DEMO refers to a proposed class of nuclear fusion experimental reactors that are intended to demonstrate the net production of electric power from nuclear fusion. Most of the ITER partners have plans for their own DEMO-class reactors. With the possible exception of the EU and Japan, there are no plans for international collaboration as there was with ITER.[1] [2]

    Plans for DEMO-class reactors are intended to build upon the ITER experimental nuclear fusion reactor.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fusion_experiments#Tokamak

  6. Why Not?

    We need to replace Vlad's Gas

    Until we are self dependant for Energy we are really exposed as a country.

    I prefer well managed nuclear to fracking.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: We need to replace Vlad's Gas

      Quite frankly I'd prefer panda nuclear to russian gas if we really had to make that choice

      China's been the world's production/technology house for 3500 years. They'd rather sell you stuff than invade you

      FWIW, a large part of the reason the USA is scared of China and is waving the military boogeyman around is because China owns enough of the USA to invoke "Pax Morporkia"

      "If you fight, we'll call in your mortgages. And incidentally that's my pike you're pointing at me. I paid for that shield you're holding. And take my helmet off when you speak to me, you horrible little debtor."

      On top of that, moving to a nuclear world (less oil dependent) makes the world less likely to continue using USD for international trade and once a hegmonic currency loses that position, any accruded debt becomes a liability for the host country (this is what happened to britain aftare WW2, quite apart from the lend lease debt) - the USA has stacked up _quadrillions_ of dollars of debt and may not be able to repay it all of that happens

      1. cookieMonster

        Re: We need to replace Vlad's Gas

        That more or less sums up exactly what’s going on

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: We need to replace Vlad's Gas

        That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

        FWIW, a large part of the reason the USA is scared of China and is waving the military boogeyman around is because China owns enough of the USA to invoke "Pax Morporkia"

        "If you fight, we'll call in your mortgages. And incidentally that's my pike you're pointing at me. I paid for that shield you're holding. And take my helmet off when you speak to me, you horrible little debtor."

        If the US and China goes to war, it'll immediately nullify any debts owed to China. No way you are going to continue giving money (repaying debts) to the country you are at war with. As far as the US government is concerned, paying off or attempting to pay off any such debts owed to China would be aiding and abetting an enemy during time of war. The Chinese would just have to write off all such debts and suck it - well, unless they win any such war of course and as terms of surrender/treaty re-instate all such owed debts. Any ownership stakes China has in the US (whether physical or intellectual) will be immediately nationalised by the US government with zero compensation being paid to the country they are at war with, China.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: We need to replace Vlad's Gas

          Technically yes that's what would happen in a war. But the OP point is that it won't happen. China wouldn't go to war with the US when it can call in some debt (they are clever enough to not call it all in at once). The US won't go to war with China simply to get their debt cancelled, it would be a short-term win (only if they win the war) but long-term would destroy their trade as no one would accept their credit any more.

          Sure, they will both continue sabre-rattling and jockeying over Taiwan, but it will just be posturing.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: We need to replace Vlad's Gas

      "Until we are self dependant for Energy we are really exposed as a country."

      While true in general, the UK only imports about 3% of it's natural gas from Vlad. We are at far less risk of the tap being turned off than much of Europe is. On the other hand, even though "we" extract our "own" gas from the North Sea and other locations in and around the UK, the price is still set by the international markets. Maybe we could threaten to nationalise the UK gas production industry and force them to lower their prices to us. After all, the price increases are artificial in that respect. UK gas from UK waters sold to the UK. Even in the case of oil, we only import 11%. Significant, but possibly not devastatingly so. Same applies to the pricing re. locally drilled oil. The production companies are making out like bandits because of the "crisis". Their costs aren't up much more than the last year or three, only the market spot prices have gone up and therefore their unexpected profits.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: We need to replace Vlad's Gas

        It's nothing more wrong in buying Russian gas than Norwegian gas it's not about replacing Vlad's gas but Vlad.

  7. TRT Silver badge

    Hm...

    Harwell isn't on the list?

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Hm...

      Are you talking about the Harwell Synchrocyclotron.

      "The Harwell Synchrocyclotron was a particle accelerator based at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment campus near Harwell, Oxfordshire. Construction of the accelerator began in 1946[1] and it was completed in 1949".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harwell_Synchrocyclotron

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Hm...

        The place is now a science park. It has a high energy demand, as well as an incumbent population of skilled technicians and researchers. It's also practically on top of Didcot, a major generation centre.

  8. Trotts36

    All aboard the next part of the gravy train trip

    *sigh*

    Are we still deluding ourselves that fusion is anything other than a joyful toy for bored physicists to play with ?

    Vast swathes of key building blocks for meaningful, useful and viable fusion power are still missing, not researched.

    All the gleeful phd dolts who get all fired up for plasma containment seem unconcerned about how we produce fuel, how we extract useable heat…. And all that money could of been actually used to produce real world fission electrical generation.

    Mark my words in 40 years time we’ll still be 20 years away..

    1. Hero Protagonist
      Joke

      Re: All aboard the next part of the gravy train trip

      Hmm I wonder if I mark your words now, will I still be able to find them in 40 years to check?

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: All aboard the next part of the gravy train trip

      The biggest problem with fusion is that every time there's a setback, funding gets cut

      This is bleeding edge discovery, almost pure physics. Each "failure" - isn't. It's invariably a new discovery which opens up more possibilities and questions (but backers only interested in $$$ don't see it that way)

      Until relatively recently Fusion has been funded at a a"fusion-never" level. It was the EU and China who kicked it back into high gear

      It's WORTH pursuing. It's also WORTH noting that any commercial outfit which does so is virtually guaranteed to be throwing money into a black hole - but then again so were the 6 different teams chasing the Transistor after that was proven to be theoretically possible by Heisenberg in the 1920s - and despite AT&T gett8ing there first with the point contact device it was the thin film transistor that Philips demonstrated 6 weeks later which ended up being the basis for virtually all modern electronics

      Fusion will probably work eventually, once (as Edison famously pointed out) all the methods which don't work are eliminated. In the meantime the research has given us a whole new bunch of knowledge about subatomic physics we didn't previously have along with VAST experience in handling and controlling HOT plasmas (which will be highly valuable for spaceflight)

      Molten Salt is a stepping stone to the future - and it should be noted that in 1961 light water technology was regarded by nuclear scientists as a very temporary stepping stone along the way due to its many drawbacks. If any popped up today they'd be asked why the hell we're still using it (and where's their flying car?)

      Thorium has a bunch of benefits over uranium - mostly that it gets away from the weapons cycle(*), but thorium is a really easy fuel to obtain (watse product of raw earth mining) and doesn't need enrichment.

      Seaborg et al tried to weaponise thorium and failed every time. U233 bombs would be really cheap if they worked, but there are fundamental reasons it can't happen and why enriching natural uranium (actually, depleting it to produce very pure plutonium to make bombs - enriched uranium is a waste product of weaponsmaking) is always going to be vastly more economic for military systems than other processes. The problem is that military systems have been allowed to exert total control over the nuclear cycle (tail wagging the dog) instead of being muzzled hard.

  9. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Ludicrous

    This shows what a mockery our government's commitment to climate change is. ITER needs a kick up the arse or we need to go our own way and accelerate STEPS.

    We need a Manhattan project for a working commercial fusion reactor and should have started about 10 years ago.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ludicrous

      >We need a Manhattan project for a working commercial fusion reactor and should have started about 10 years ago.

      We sort of did with ITER. But that was more like asking the USAF, the Royal Navy the USMC and the French resistance to all design the bits of the bomb they wanted and come together to deliver it at the target

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Ludicrous

      @Gordon 10

      You don't seem to understand that STEPS is a DEMO of ITER and closely related, while ITER is much too big for just one European country.

      "ITER is funded and run by seven member parties: China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. The United Kingdom participates through EU's Fusion for Energy (F4E), Switzerland participates through Euratom and F4E, and the project has cooperation agreements with Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Thailand.".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Ludicrous

        "You don't seem to understand that STEPS is a DEMO of ITER and closely related, while ITER is much too big for just one European country."

        I get that STEPs is an ITER evolution, you've misunderstood my point.

        STEPS should be funded to overtake ITER ASAP

        ITER is not too big for any 1 country. At 45-50Bn its basically 1.5 Track and Traces (37Bn) but over say a 5-7 year timeline rather than the 1-2 of T&T. Even 100Bn is peanuts to a G7 Government. It's just about willpower.

        The best thing we (UK) could do is start a Fusion "Arms" race. This collaborative effort is bullshit post WWII defence contractor thinking, more about spreading Pork around than achieving a goal.

        Unfortunately I doubt any single government in the West has the balls to think this way anymore. I suspect China will get excited about it at some point and make us a laughing stock.

        1. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Ludicrous

          @Gordon 10

          Yes good luck with that, but you also know it will not happen nor would you attract all the people needed.

          Time to wake up.

          1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

            Re: Ludicrous

            I agree it won't happen because most of our current politicians lack any of the long term vision needed to deal properly with Climate change (except worryingly perhaps China).

            I disagree in that all of the other problems are solvable if you throw enough time money and skill at it.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Ludicrous

      Plenty of private firms working on their own fusion concepts. Most are not tokamak-based, and many appear to be closer to commericalisation than any ITER follow-up. They may still fail in the long run, but they are far more focussed on producing commerically viable fusion power than ITER, STEPS etc.

      Trouble is hardly any are British, so UK government will ignore them in favour of something home grown, which will go at least 50x over budget and be 30 years late.

  10. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    As someone who lives near Ardeer, I am all for putting it there. Two reasons: (1) there's a lot of unemployment and (2) a massive uncontrolled explosion would significant improve the area.

    1. eldakka Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      --------------------->

      (2) a massive uncontrolled explosion would significant improve the area.

  11. ShadowSystems

    Do I want one in my own back yard?

    *Jumping up & down, waving arms franticly, screaming enthusiasticly* HELL YES! Gimmiegimmiegimmie GIMMIE!

    In fact, if there's enough room, I'll take two! =-D

    1. Evil Auditor

      Re: Do I want one in my own back yard?

      Same here: specifically, where my neighbour's house is would be the perfect place!

      1. ShadowSystems

        Re: Do I want one in my own back yard?

        I want it so I can tell that snobby neighbor down the block to STFU about all his solar panels, whole house battery system, electric vehicle, yadda yadda yadda. "I'll save (Ludicrous amount) every month while the rest of you are gobbling down resources like Halloween candy!" type shite.

        Plop one of these down in my back yard, let me instal an electromagnetic rail cannon on the roof, & I'll show the uppity bastard what I think of his solar farm!

        *Cough*

        I shall insert a 100 meter tall, neon, blinking, scrolling marquis sarcasm tag for the obviously deprived... =-)p

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Do I want one in my own back yard?

          @ShadowSystems

          That neighbour sounds like people who live near me too

    2. Mike 125

      Re: Do I want one in my own back yard?

      >Do I want one in my own back yard?

      The word is NIMBY. In my case, N is for 'N'ature. But each has their own version.

      I suspect the modular mini-nuke will overtake fusion in the near term. The mass production and standardisation aspect will be irresistable.

      TFA:

      "told us "2040 sounds about right" once one considers the infrastructure and sign-offs needed to build a power station. "That's what's taking the time," he said, "it's not the fusion."

      I know a sparky working on HPC. It's exactly the same issue there: ya 'elf 'n' saf'ty, regs, planning, etc. Every site is different. They're designing / revising as they go along. That's what's going to make it way late and over budget.

  12. spold Silver badge

    Hmmmm

    I don't have a positive view of STEPS that topped the chart - their lawyers pressured the children's charity STEPS (for lower limb abnormalities) into surrendering their steps.org domain name which they had held for ages, and to which they were not entitled to anyway given the .org definition.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      given the .org definition

      I think the definitions of .org (and .net and maybe .com) have long been purely notional. I use a .org as my primary personal domain and snapped up the .net equivalent when it lapsed a few years back.

  13. naive

    It is courageous to assume it will work

    Current experimental fusion plants generate +/-80% of the energy required to start the reaction, creating a net loss of 20%.

    In order to make fusion work, it needs to generate 300%-500% of the energy input to be viable.

    Fusion only generates heat, which needs to be directed to steam turbines to generate electricity, a process which in it self loses 50% of its input.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ4W1g-6JiY

    Luckily we have for 300 years of coals, so there is time to tinker around a bit.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: It is courageous to assume it will work

      Where to start?

      Well, firstly, yes, current experimental reactors don't break even. That's kind of the whole point of continued research and development, almost by definition. The whole point here is to move from a non-break-even experimental reactor to a proof-of-concept demonstration reactor that does break even, and yes, that is after thermodynamic efficiency is taken into account. Whether it will work or not is of course down to the boffins, not to you or I.

      Let's then look at your claim that steam turbines are typically only 50% efficient. I'm not sure where you're getting that figure from, but google tells me that industrial steam turbines are typically 90% efficient. That's a whopping 400% variance in energy loss you are out by (50% loss vs 10% loss).

      Using the figure of 90%, to break even, the reactor needs to produce 111% of the energy put in to start the fusion reaction. In reality, if they can break even, then break-even plus 11% is hardly going to be a massive technical hurdle, and it's entirely reasonable to assume that continued development will push that output well above that level. I don't know why you think 200%-500% is needed in a demonstration reactor. Those might be the levels you are looking for in a future commercial power station. That is not what this is, it is the next step beyond, and almost certainly in the roadmap, probably for another 10-20 years down the line.

      Then your claim that fusion only creates heat - well, technically it produces shit-tons of fast neutrons as well, which they'll probably be trying to convert to heat, but the heat is the thing you'll typically try to convert to electricity, until we find some way of converting fast neutrons directly to electrical current.

      As for it being "lucky" that we have 300 years worth of coal left to burn - if you think that is a good idea, then I despair. Burning coal is pretty much the worst thing we could be doing for any number of reasons - climate impact, pollution, radioactive fallout from trace elements (look it up!), environmental destruction from mining, and so on...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: It is courageous to assume it will work

        "As for it being "lucky" that we have 300 years worth of coal left to burn - if you think that is a good idea, then I despair."

        So do I. I believe we have less than 40 years before methane clathrate deposits around the arctic start calling time on complex life across the planet if CO2 emissons continue at their current rates (Permian extinction endgame)

        If CO2 reachs 750ppm, then really bad things happen - it's essentially acid rain everywhere and plants die off worldwide

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: It is courageous to assume it will work

          CO2 levels have been much higher than 750ppmv in the past. Hence all the hydrocarbons we're still digging up from those good'ol days. And oddly, also around the time that squishy things* developed backbones** and exoskeletons. An especially impressive feat given high CO2 means*** acidification. Or maybe all the CaCl neutralised all the acid. Or it's just as well they pulled that off, or we wouldn't have all that chalk that'll prevent ocean acidification.

          But such is politics. CO2 levels can easily exceed 750ppmv in badly ventilated places. Pets and plants don't die. But if, say CO2 dropped below 175ppmv... Then pretty much everything dies

          *Not greens. Well, some photosynthesis.

          **Absent in many greens

          ***Or it doesn't. Greens even demo this. Drop chalk in vinegar, watch evil CO2 form. Gloss over the bit where reaction stops once the acid is neutralised. Acidification claim is vaguely true, although it's really a teeny bit less alkaline.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          @Alan Brown:

          Relax, mate. Remember, England saw its first ever snow (for at least 600yrs of then-records, anyway) in about 1400AD, the year before Agincourt.

          (Classic line by a monk in one of the circulated records at the time: "There was chaos on the roads". :D Ur-culture is very sticky.)

          It was so bad and so intense that there was even a light dusting of snow seen as far south as the Norfolk Broads!, though that melted almost immediately.

          For non-Brits reading this: it's now pretty routine for the _south coast_ to be beautifully blanketed with snow.

          And it was hotter than the IPCC's worst-case scenario for 2100AD when William the Conqueror invaded England.

          Polar bears are a lot older than that, according to paleontologists. Implying that they didn't get wiped out, nor did they evolve magically fast in the centuries since then.

          Our current corals evolved their hard "shells" at 650ppm, despite the AGW priests wailing that all coral is shortly to die due to CO2-driven ocean acidification. And they continued laying down hard coral all through the subsequent rise in CO2 to over 2,000ppm.

          The catastrophism being scweamed and scweamed and scweamed all falls apart in your hands if you examine it closely.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: @Alan Brown:

            Our current corals evolved their hard "shells" at 650ppm, despite the AGW priests wailing that all coral is shortly to die due to CO2-driven ocean acidification.

            This particular part of your comment just illustrates exactly how much you don't know about coral. Nobody is suggesting that ocean acidification is going to cause the aragonite deposited by coral polyps to dissolve, and I'll be generous and assume you are displaying ignorance rather than deliberately misrepresenting the crux of the real problem.

            In essence, coral polyps have evolved to be in a tight symbiosis with algae, which provide a food source to the polyps via photosynthesis. These have evolved to survive in a pretty tight temperature range, and if waters become too warm, this causes "bleaching" where the algae are expelled by the polyps, and they essentially starve to death. As the oceans warm, these events are already becoming more common, and vast areas of coral reef are already dying off.

            In the fullness of time, if ocean temperatures stabilise at higher level, evolution will take care of the situation, and a new balance will be struck with algae and polyps that tolerate higher temperatures. Evolution, however, takes time, and realistically, even with organisms that have a short life-cycle, we are probably talking about tens of thousands of years. Meanwhile, ocean temperatures are changing on a timescale orders of magnitude faster than that. With current emission levels, we are talking decades.

            As far as I can see, it's not the climate scientists who are "scweaming," it is the science deniers, such as yourself. Rather than parroting some bullshit you saw on a youtube channel, or in your social-media echo chamber, you should try reading some of the vast body of scientific literature on the matter, and then you might end up with a well-informed opinion.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: @Alan Brown:

              I'm sorry, mate, you need to start paying proper attention. Parrotting a subset of meme sheets then sneering at fantasy-people-in-your-head doesn't cut it.

              For a jaw-dropping example, you state you are completely unaware of all the apocalyptic pronouncements re, yes, corals being unable to form their homes. Due to ocean acidification due to rising atmospheric CO2. You're unaware of this?, that's fine (if...utterly bizarre if you've paid any attention at all to the topic)(implying that you haven't but just ran to your meme sheets to find out what to say), but it's a very good idea not to hop in and insist that because you know nothing about it, that everyone else is stupid and narrow-minded and an arrogant foolish pawn of socialmeeja.

              Now, you are attempting to panic about bleaching. But then demonstrate that you know nothing about it other than what you've found to copy-paste.

              You're clearly unaware of the absolute debacle of AIMS, JCU etc trying to beat up drama about the catastrophic apocalyptic bleaching of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, for example. Which brought to light spectacular incompetence (their survey methodology) but also extensive deliberate lying. Hint: most times anyone checked their surveyed bleached areas, they were found to be unbleached, but that they looked bleached from the air if travelling overhead in an aeroplane (which is how they do the surveys). Hint: the same bleaching was found in 1930 when scientists first looked in-large -- ~45yrs before AGW started (they blamed farmers). Hint: and again the next time they looked in the mid-1960s -- decade before AGW (big global cooling at the time, actually) and this time they blamed crown-of-thorns starfish. Latterly, they've jumped on the AGW bandwagon (AND the farmers again) because there's a LOT more money in it. To create the drama, they've had to hide a whole lot of data. (If you had ever looked at AGW "science", you would immediately recognise that trick -- pioneered by the CRU and used to great effect.) And also they had to lie about the new data. They acknowledged this in a Senate investigation, btw -- do feel free to look into it. Might be time to start doing some genuine reading rather than confining yourself to approved religious propaganda.

              Amusingly, when the UN bodies paid attention to their screaming and drama, and announced they were going to pull the reef's UN Heritage status and impose penalties etc because it was being destroyed, the "scientists" (AIMS, JCU, etc) flipped 180° and admitted they'd been bullshitting. This got drilled into in the Senate.

              Can bleaching occur? Yes. Absolutely. It happens a lot. Always has. It requires a very very specific and very transient/unstable combination of atmospheric conditions (completely stationary, for a start), wave conditions, and drought onshore. Basically, if onshore has a drought, then an uncommon and transient combination of offshore conditions can bleach surface coral. And they start regenerating immediately the winds start again, and very quickly if the rains come, on land. The biggest problem researchers have in practice with bleaching is finding enough of it that's heat-created to justify nontrivial work on it. Try talking to them -- I have. One of them described the necessary atmospheric conditions as "almost lensing", btw, to give you an idea of how unusual.

              Is bleaching unusual in the greater scheme of things? The 340,000+ square kilometres greater scheme of things? Well, Captain Cook reported seeing large areas bleached in the 1700s (not a lot of AGW back then). And it's been a consistent theme amongst people living on those coasts ever since -- every so often, chunks get bleached. I personally first heard a tourist complaining about seeing bleaching in the early 70s. Pre-AGW, to be clear. So, no, it's not unusual across a region nearly 3 times bigger than England. It's just a normal thing.

              Now, even by AIMS' own data, their big bleaching drama coupla years ago was a debacle, as their maps quietly showed that the previous year's "catastrophic" bleaching had completely recovered the following year, which itself showed "catastrophic" bleaching but all in different areas. The 2 areas together would mean that, according to you, the vast majority of the Great Barrier Reef was dead.

              So what _actually_ happened? In real life? Well, AIMS had to cough up actual data to the Senate. They'd been publicly and internationally banging the drama drum about the catastrophic loss of reef over the last decade, and that it didn't have long to live unless Urgent Crisis Action!. But upon the _actual_ data being extracted from them, it was discovered that :

              * the Northern region hadn't changed,

              * the Central region had more than doubled,

              * the Southern region had tripled.

              All during a period of --according to Gavin and Phil via GISS & HadCruT-- soaring global warming.

              "Whoops"

              Now, really, anyone sane would have absolutely expected it to be fine re temperatures, because that reef has happily survived the Mediaeval Warm Period (hotter than 2100's worst case per IPCC) ~a thousand years ago, the Roman Warm Period (much hotter than today) ~2 thousand years ago, and the wotchamacallit Warm Period (Mesopotamian, it's on the tip of my tongue) which was profoundly hotter than 2100's worst-case prediction: anyone banging the drama drum re temperature carnage is clearly an idiot.

              The most "at-risk" reef in the world as "temperature soars", is actually growing. Growing quite a bit.

              The Great Barrier Reef is clearly a denialist.

              I'm a trained researcher, btw, read research for fun, and I discovered in 2004 to my extreme shock and complete inversion of beliefs-up-to-that-point that the entire body of AGW rests on fraudulent foundations. I've not yet found any honest work supporting it. Please don't parrot religious memes at me and expect to be taken seriously -- do some work. Here's a simple exercise to get you started: a renewable "proof" hosing down a "false" theory -- took me around 30secs to discover it fraudulent. See how you go.

        3. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Oh, I forgot to mention clathrates

          > we have less than 40 years before methane clathrate deposits

          I was quite concerned myself when I first heard of this 20-odd years ago, and of the catastrophic tipping point.

          But apart from a tiny shallow surface layer (max.200m), an oddity of the world's oceans is that the temperature globally is entirely uniform. And constant. And low: IIRC ~4⁰C. (Lower near the ocean floors. ~2⁰C IIRC.)

          When I say "constant": that temperature didn't budge in the slightest during the recent decades' run-up in land-surface temperatures.

          (My personal suspicion is that it's related to the minimum-volume of water: water expands either side of around that temp. If so, that would imply Earth's gravity is a strong negative feedback for changes in that temp. And it would certainly explain why it's settled at that odd temperature.

          But that's just my own suspicion. No idea if it's right.)

          Now, permafrost land regions of say Alaska and Siberia certainly are drenched in released methane every summer. Explosively so, in parts.

          But on a real-world big-boy-pants basis, ~all of the currently-stable methane clathrates are in the ocean. And below the shallow surface layer.

          Meaning that not only do they have a decent way to go to reach their pressure-increased melting point, but that the entirety of the world's deep oceans, globally and uniformly, needs to be lifted that far for any of them to melt.

          That's one hell of a heat-sink. (Run the numbers for some real astonishment; currently at equilibrium with ~2,000 Hiroshimas per second hitting the surface.)

          Unless you're secretly an elf or a spirit of the mountain roots, I suspect your genetic line will have mutated into space-native diaphonous filaments looking back from Sagittarius with radar eyes and a vague curiosity at an expanding red giant, before it happens.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Oh, I forgot to mention clathrates

            Another way of looking at it is:

            If it was going to happen, then it _certainly_ would have _already_ happened, around the time William the Conqueror invaded England.

            And again before then, during the Roman times.

            And again before _then_, during the Mesopotamian times, when it was a couple of degrees further hotter than even 1066.

            So, relax: all holocene life on Earth has already been irrevocably wiped out by methane clathrates 3 times, twice in recorded history. You're already dead --you were never even born-- along with ~all life on Earth.

      2. swm Silver badge

        Re: It is courageous to assume it will work

        I think there is a boron reaction that doesn't generate neutrons.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It is courageous to assume it will work

      "In order to make fusion work, it needs to generate 300%-500% of the energy input to be viable."

      More than that.

      What goes into the chamber is less than 1% of the input electrical energy. The absolute best you can hope to extract as useful work on the output side is 35% of the heat energy produced

      if you can't maintain 100k-1M over unity then it's not going to be viable enoug to overcome losses inside the system (unless tremendous efficiency gains are made on the input side)

      The good news is that the fusion isn't really the hard part. The hard part is maintaining contained plasmas AND keeping things fusing at the same time.

      China's claimed 15 minutes of plasma containment (no fusion). The best fusion runs so far are still less than a minute. Things have a tendency in R&D to hang around at one level for decades or suddenly start improving when someone has an ephiany (Blue leds being a case in point)

      For all we know, Tokamaks (torus or spherical) are a dead end and stellerators with better computer control were the answer after all. Right now we don't know what we don't know and we know vastly less than the blind men exploring the elephant.

      It would be nice to see fusion in 20 years but it's better to be harshly realistic and say that it wil take at least a century of hard work. That way we can be pleasantly surprised if it takes less instead of moaning about it all being a fraud and physcists being full of snake oil

      It also means that they can get properly planned budgets instead of having them slashed and burned when they fail to get there. The story from funding bodies has frequently been much along the lines of: "I'll give you a billion dollars a year to work on fusion" "I'm still giving you 800 million dollars a year for fusion, why haven't you gotten it working yet?" "I've been giving you $500 million a year for the last 3 years, where is it?" "If you don't get fusion working next year I'll stop giving you the $50million per year"

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it's not the fusion"

    Oh, I'm sorry, I thought there were still legitimate scientific issues that kept us from benefitting from endless energy generation.

    So, "it's not the fusion.". Then, "it's the bureaurocracy", I gather ?

    So let's take the bureaurocracy behind the chemical shed and waste them, and get ourselves ENDLESS FUSION ENERGY.

    If a bunch of administrative busibodies is all that stands between me and endless energy, then I'm sorry, but there will be a few human sacrifices.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "it's not the fusion"

      No, he's saying that the bureaucracy is delaying the build of the DEMO unit. He seems to be claiming they already have the theory and engineering ready or almost ready but can't even start. So no, bureaucracy isn't stopping us having free fusion power tomorrow. It's delaying the development of the equivalent of the Wright Flyer. We're still a long way from the equivalent of commercial airlines, or even the Sopwith Pup.

  15. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
    Devil

    Manhattan Project

    Was based in major population centres *cough Chicago*

    What's wrong with Kensington or Chelsea - there's no /local/ resident (cf house prices)

    Otherwise, what's closest to London.

    NIMBY!!

    1. Death Boffin

      Re: Manhattan Project

      Not true. Chicago was only a proof of concept for chain reaction. The main sites were Hanford, WA, Los Alamos, NM and Oak Ridge, TN. All essentially in the middle of nowhere. This was done for safety and security reasons.

  16. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    the Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

    AKA DBEISknees

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