Friday, 2 December 2016

Brexit: and safe nuclear energy

How is the UK going to deal with its carbon emissions following Brexit?
Futures Forum: Brexit: and climate change: "How Donald Trump and Brexit help us understand the cultural politics of climate change"
Futures Forum: Brexit: and sharing reductions in carbon emissions

Is nuclear the option, then?
Futures Forum: Brexit: and building Hinkley

And what about that 'other' nuclear power option - nuclear fusion? The only problem is that the UK might not be part of any such programmes in the near future:

30 November 2016

Brexit puts Europe’s nuclear fusion future in doubt

The JET building at night against a purple sky

Brexit puts the future of the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor, based in Oxfordshire, in doubt. By leaving the European Union the UK might also exit Euratom, the EU’s framework for safe nuclear energy.
“It would be bizarre and extreme for the UK, which has been at the forefront of fusion research for 50 years, to just leave these projects,” says Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. “It would make no sense strategically.”
The UK government has yet to say what its plans are for cooperating with Euratom, but part of the Brexit negotiations will have to include the nuclear fusion experiment JET. Decommissioning JET is expected to leave around 3000 cubic metres of radioactive waste, which would cost around £289 million to deal with, according to the UKAEA.
At the moment, JET hosts 350 scientists and is funded by 40 different countries. Its aim is to commercialise nuclear fusion, which releases energy by forcing atoms together in the same process that powers the sun.
The energy output should be far greater than that of current nuclear power stations and produce a smaller amount of waste. But making it work effectively has proved incredibly difficult, as reactors require huge amounts of energy to get going and only remain stable for short periods.

Inside of fusion reactor JET, showing a purple plasma on the right

JETxit: no future for fusion reactor?


During its existence JET has set many nuclear fusion records, including the world record for fusion power in 1997. Recently, JET has been running experiments to help with building ITER, a larger and more powerful reactor in France.
“JET is the best place to prepare for ITER’s first run in 2025,” Chapman says. “There’s nowhere else like it in the world.”
Due to delays with ITER, the plan was for JET to continue running after its scheduled finish date in 2018. Whether that happens or not will depend on Brexit negotiations.
“Discussions with the European commission have made clear that to get the most out of ITER, JET must continue running past 2018,” Chapman says. “Whether that will happen will depend on the political climate.”

Brexit puts Europe's nuclear fusion future in doubt | New Scientist

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