Fusion Energy Moves Forward in Europe with EUROfusion
Fusion energy could be the next big thing in clean tech, and though it’s certainly still many years away from commercial usage, it received major support this week in Europe.
The European Commission and European fusion research laboratories are launching a joint program to further study fusion energy called EUROfusion.
The budget for the project is quite large at a sizable €850 million from 2014 to 2018. About half of the funds will come from the Euratom Horizon 2020 fusion energy research program.
“Fusion has the potential to become a reliable, safe, non-CO2 emitting and sustainable energy source,” Günther Oettinger, European Commission vice president for energy, said. “Today's launching of our European Joint Programme on fusion shows how Europe benefits if we unite our research strength. EUROfusion provides the framework for Europe to maintain its world leading position in fusion research: now let's live up to the challenge.”
Still, as mentioned, it’s quite a long ways off.
At the end of 2012, a roadmap was laid out by research labs in the EU that pegged 2050 as a potential year for fusion implementation. EUROfusion will implement a five year plan that aims to tackle the initial steps of the roadmap.
The team will be working with the largest fusion research operation, the Joint European Torus in Culham, UK, and focus on issues such as how fusion energy could connect to the grid and where its place in the renewable energy sector lies.
Fusion energy (not to be confused with fission energy, which powers modern nuclear plants) has very little risk associated with it, as it has no possibility of a catastrophic accident and produces no radioactive waste. It is also much more efficient.
To make fusion energy a reality, it’s estimated that between €60 and €80 billion is needed in investments over a 50 year period.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.