Nuclear fusion could be close enough to start blue-sky gazing

News: The nuclear-fusion startup, Helion, recently announced that it has developed new technologies that may make nuclear fusion viable.

Nuclear fusion could be used to produce relatively clean energy (hydrogen fuel), which could then be deployed in a number of ways, unleashing a chain reaction across the global economy.

How cheap and clean energy could benefit the global economy?

Development of remote places: It would facilitate faster transportation and a consequent faster transformation of remote places.

Greening of Deserts: Desalinating water would become cheap and easy and irrigation would become less expensive, enabling the transformation of many landscapes. For instance, the Middle East would become much greener.

Facilitate more control over the Environment: It might be possible to manipulate temperatures outdoors, so Denmark in January and Dubai in August would no longer be so unbearable.

Rise in wages: Increased tourism will increase the demand for labor, thereby resulting in higher wages.

Technological developments: Cheap energy would also make supercomputing more available, crypto more convenient, and nanotechnology more likely.

Social change: People might invest more resources in status-seeking due to the increased availability of material goods.

Impact on climate change: nuclear fusion could replace coal plants around the world. Further, protective technologies to remove methane and carbon from the air, are also likely to be more feasible and affordable.

What are some potential negative consequences?

Though clean energy will mostly be beneficial, but it can have some negative consequences too. Like,

In the short run, fossil-fuel-rich nations such as Saudi Arabia and Russia would face difficulties.

In the long term, commodity-exporting nations like Brazil and Argentina might face difficulties too as with cheaper irrigation, countries relying on their exports might start growing their own crops.

Increased methane emissions: As water desalination became more feasible and irrigation would become less expensive, many areas would be far greener, and people might raise more cows and eat more beef. Those cows, in turn, might release far more methane into the air.

Must Read: Energy security: Nuclear power – Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “Nuclear fusion could be close enough to start blue-sky gazing” published in Livemint on 15th Nov 2021.

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