From Watts Up With That?
h/t Peta of Newark; The British Government is seriously telling people in working class areas they will have jobs at an operational, power producing nuclear fusion plant by 2040.
The story below is over a month old, but I decided to cover this anyway, for reasons which will become apparent.
Another STEP towards near limitless, low-carbon energy at West Burton
8th February 2023
Updated: 8th February 2023
The future of abundant low-carbon energy without the need for fossil fuels could be in sight after Science Minister George Freeman announced the creation of a new delivery body for the UK’s fusion programme, named UK Industrial Fusion Solutions Ltd.
On the visit to the future site of the UK’s first prototype fusion energy plant at West Burton, near Retford, the minister urged energy companies and investors to recognise the vast potential fusion energy could have for both the UK and the wider world.
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) plant will be constructed by 2040 to demonstrate the ability to use fusion energy to generate electricity for the UK grid.
…Read more: https://www.eastmidlandsbusinesslink.co.uk/mag/news/another-step-towards-near-limitless-low-carbon-energy-at-west-burton/
Is the Spherical tokamak a world leading design? Absolutely. Spherical tokamaks, like Stellarators, are a promising attempt to address the topological defects which afflict traditional donut shaped fusion plasmas, to reduce the opportunity for energy loss and a fusion plasma flameout.
But there are still enormous obstacles to overcome. For example, even if they manage to create a self sustaining plasma, there is the unsolved problem of creating materials which can survive the radiation emitted by the plasma. It is not just the heat, which is manageable, the particle radiation emitted by the plasma is so intense it causes the supporting structures to break down at the molecular and atomic levels, leading to rapid embrittlement and structural failure.
But I think there is another reason these over optimistic promises are being made.
Nottinghamshire’s lost mining jobs ‘could be replaced’ by nuclear site
An inquiry will look into why the UK’s former mining areas are ‘lagging behind’
By Oliver Pridmore Agenda Editor
04:00, 3 DEC 2022
MPs in Nottinghamshire’s former coalfield communities say the construction of the UK’s first nuclear fusion site in the county could replace some of the jobs lost from coal mining. A national inquiry has launched to consider questions such as whether the job losses from the coal industry have been fully replaced and whether these jobs are adequate in terms of pay and opportunities.
A devolution deal to give more power to Nottinghamshire councils has also been highlighted as something which could improve long-term opportunities for people living in former coalfield areas. Nottinghamshire was home to several pits in areas such as Ashfield, Bassetlaw and Mansfield, but most of them closed in the 90s and early 2000s, with the county’s last working colliery at Thoresby closing in 2015.
Since then, studies have shown people in these former mining areas find it harder to get good jobs than in other areas of the country. A 2019 report by Sheffield Hallam University found the former coalfields have only 55 employee jobs per 100 residents of working age, compared to a national average of 73.
…Read more: https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/nuclear-site-could-replace-nottinghamshires-7877382
We already know why former mining regions and other deprived areas in Britain are not advancing. High taxes are deterring investment. In recent years you can add high energy prices to this witches brew of economic despair. If you want a detailed discussion of this issue, and why such once wealthy areas fell into poverty, I recommend you watch The Trillion Pound Horror Story.
So why promise fusion jobs in the near future, to people in working class areas who have suffered decades of severe economic hardship and broken promises?
In my opinion, the fusion hype is a cynical political campaign tactic.
The British Conservatives know they face a difficult general election in 2025. They would really like to hang on to working class areas they snatched from Labour in 2019.
To promise an operational reactor by 2040, while glossing over the enormous and near term likely unsolvable engineering challenges, to toy with people’s hopes, promising people they’ll have jobs to replace lost fossil fuel and mining jobs, in my opinion is an act of political contempt. In my opinion the nuclear fusion hype is a vile political deceit whose sole intention is to retain political support amongst demographic groups who understandably feel let down by the complete failure of British Conservatives to improve the lives of ordinary working people.
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