COLLOQUIUM: Why we have solar cells but not yet nuclear fusion
The energy market being the largest market in the world, a new energy technology has to grow by at least four orders of magnitude from multi-MW prototypes to 1% market share. With reference to the analysis by Kramer and Haigh , we first consider historical data on the introduction of new energy technologies. Quite independent of the particular technology full deployment takes more than 60 years. During the first 3 decades the growth is exponential. This phase does not contribute to energy production yet calls for an investment of more than 1000 billion dollar. What does this mean for the development of fusion? Is fusion expensive and taking forever, as critics say, or does it follow the same trend as other technologies? And why do we have solar cells but not yet fusion?
Taking fusion energy and solar panels as examples, we discuss the differences between large unit-size, centralised sources and small unit-size distributed systems, from a technological and risk management perspective as well as an economical perspective.
 Kramer, G.J., Haigh, M., No quick switch to low-carbon energy; Nature; 462(7273):568-569; 2009
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