Fusion power thirty years away

Fusion in a Farnsworth fusor
Fusion in a Farnsworth fusor

Economical power generation through fusion has always been "thirty years away", but this time it feels like it really may be just thirty years away. With machines such as ITER, the Z Machine, and the National Ignition Facility, which may be able to far surpass the break-even point, where more energy is produced by fusion than is put into the machines, the prospects look pretty good for commercial fusion power in the foreseeable future. Even inertial electrostatic confinement, which works by smashing accelerated particles instead of heating them to unimaginable temperatures as in the more mainstream approaches, seems promising as a source for fusion power generation, with showstopper flaws apparently having been solved recently.

It's a pity that fusion research has been chronically underfunded, though, given how expensive the research is but with the huge potential payoffs. Ironically, this is also the reason why it's so much harder to pursue promising approaches that could be much cheaper than the mainstream approaches.

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