12 November 2005/ Karl Schneider/ Magazine issue 2525
It's back, it's hot and it's bigger than ever - will fusion power silence the critics for good, asks New Scientist
between the brackish waters of Takahoko lake and Obuchi lake in
northern Japan lies a stretch of land that could change our planet's
future. All our worries about sky-high oil prices and damaging
greenhouse gases could fade if the Japanese government decides to make
this the home of a project that could lead to almost unlimited amounts
of cheap, clean electricity within 50 years.
Scientists had originally earmarked the land at Rokkasho as one of two
possible sites for a vast nuclear fusion experiment called ITER. The
aim of ITER is to tame the same nuclear fusion process that powers the
sun and produce 10 times as much energy as is it takes to run the
machine. In June, after years of political wrangling, officials from
six governments finally decided to build ITER in southern France. But
despite losing out, Rokkasho may yet be home to another project that ...