21 October 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Renewable energy is taking a new turn and France is leading that charge as the first country to invest $24 billion in a project which seeks to tap energy from a Star.
An Analyst from Climate Change, Anna Hirtenstein described the project as the world’s biggest scientific experiment and the most expensive source of surplus power.
The project located in the south of France boasts of about 800 scientists already on ground to test whether they can harness the power that makes stars shine.
Assembling of parts for the machine called International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER reactor) to be used, will start in May.
Scientists say the ITER reactor with more than a million pieces and sponsors in 35 countries, will fuse atom together at temperatures 10-times hotter than the Sun — 150 million degrees Celsius (270 million Fahrenheit).
“I’m dubious,” said Chris Llewellyn Smith, director of energy research at Oxford University who has spoken in favour of the research project. “The cost of wind and solar has come down so rapidly, so the competition has become harder to beat than you could have conceivably imagined a decade ago,” he told Bloomberg.
“The concept of the need for base load generation is fading away,” said Paolo Frankl, who heads the renewable power division of the International Energy Agency, IEA. “Technically, you could run a system 100 percent on renewables and even 100 percent just wind and solar.”
Frankl says countries backing the project should stick with it because the research still might pay off. The world, he said, does not “have the luxury of avoiding any option” in ensuring power supplies.
ITER’s promoters say fusion is one of the few possibilities to generate electricity at a gigantic scale without jacking up greenhouse-gas emissions.
“It’s a dream to feel we could go on only with solar energy,” Bernard Bigot, the French theoretical chemist who is director-general of ITER, said in an interview at the group’s site near Marseille. “You need a reliable supply of energy. If you don’t have base load energy, renewable energy doesn’t work, unless you want go back to the time where people had to stop when there were no resources.”
Shares of the project are owned by the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. Since its inception in 2006, it has been plagued by delays. Last year, it had to ask for another 5 billion euros to keep going.
To evenly distribute the scientific and economic gains among the consortium’s members, ITER has issued more than 2,800 manufacturing contracts and signed some 100 agreements with separate procurement agencies.
“We have a very challenging managerial issue,” said Bigot, who was named ITER’s director in 2015 to get the experiment’s management in order. “For sure the biggest challenge is to make all these people work together.”