Researchers who study nuclear fusion are trying to domesticate and harness the energy source of stars. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
Wind power and nuclear fusion are two promising ways to reduce the planet’s dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change, as confirmed Thursday at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), in Glasgow, Scotland.
When completed off the east coast of the UK, the Dogger Bank wind farm will be the world’s largest floating wind farm and will be able to provide electricity to nearly six million homes in the UK.
Labs around the world, including at least one in Canada, have made great strides in domesticating nuclear fusion in recent years, which many see as the holy grail of clean energy.
The Dogger Bank wind farm is being developed in three phases, each with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts. In the long term, in 2026, Dogger Bank will be able to produce 3.6 gigawatts of electricity per year, which corresponds to the needs of about six million households in the UK (that is, all of Scotland) or 6 per cent of the country’s energy needs.
The three phases are developed between 125 and 290 kilometers off the Yorkshire coast and will cover an area of just over 8,600 square kilometres.
Creating an offshore wind farm, in an environment described as “hostile,” requires many technological innovations.
Dogger Bank uses the Haliade-X turbine developed by General Electric. Each blade is 107 meters long, that is, the length of a football field, with a total rotor width of 220 meters. One cycle generates enough electricity to power a UK home for two days, and one turbine can power 16,000 UK homes for a year – 9,000 off-road vehicles.
These turbines will produce twice as much power as the most powerful turbines that can be installed on Earth.
A GE executive noted at COP 26 that components for these turbines are almost entirely recyclable. It is also estimated that Dogger Bank could attract workers currently working in polluting sectors, such as hydrocarbons, whose skills will be adaptable to the project.
Researchers who study nuclear fusion are trying to domesticate and harness the energy source of stars. If nuclear fusion succeeds, it promises abundant, renewable, and clean energy.
However, the technical challenges are enormous. Asian, European and North American labs have made giant strides in recent years, and a Chinese researcher at COP26 said he believes nuclear fusion will have been domesticated during his lifetime.
In Canada, General Fusion, in British Columbia, aims to provide the planet with clean energy derived from nuclear fusion by 2030, said its president, Christopher Morey, in a pre-recorded presentation.
“Fusion is the most powerful source of energy in the universe,” he said. Integration will provide all societies with a practical and affordable solution (…) to the challenge of decarbonizing the energy system that powers everything we do and everything we use.”
General Fusion uses a different technology than its competitors to master fusion, the details of which are not understood by beginners. However, the company claims to be able to “briefly” reproduce the temperature and pressure present in the Sun’s core.
This energy can be used to generate steam and produce clean electricity. The company is now building a factory near London to demonstrate the benefits of its technology.
“We have the ambition to prove that fusion is a vaccine for climate change,” Lowry said.
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