Nuclear fusion and renewable energy forms: Are they compatible?

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  • Please citehttp://dx.d

    ARTICLE IN PRESSG ModelFUSION-6594; No. of Pages 4Fusion Engineering and Design xxx (2013) xxx xxx

    Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

    Fusion Engineering and Design

    journa l h o me page: www.elsev ier .com/

    Nuclea re

    Thomas , Kaa Lehrstuhl fr sstrassb Max-Planck-I ermanc Fritz-Haber-In

    h i g h l

    The integr erful The often is also Nuclear fu h am

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Received 14 SeReceived in reAccepted 21 JaAvailable onlin

    Keywords:Fusion power Renewable enElectricity proIntermittencyTranscontinen

    a b s t r a c t

    Nuclear fusion can be considered as a base-load power plant technology: High investment costs and

    1. Introdu

    Fusion isgeneration Most strateto be madeable. The experimentpower plangram, thereand materiin Cadarachin 2019 an

    CorresponE-mail add

    0920-3796/$ http://dx.doi.o this article in press as: T. Hamacher, et al., Nuclear fusion and renewable energy forms: Are they compatible? Fusion Eng. Des. (2013),

    ptember 2012vised form 16 January 2013nuary 2013e xxx

    plantergy formsduction

    tal power grid

    limited operational exibility require continuous operation. Wind and solar, on the other hand, as theputative main pillars of a future renewable energy system, are intermittent power sources. The resultingvariations that occur on many different time scales require at rst sight a rather exible back-up systemto balance this stochastic behavior. Fusion would appear not to be well suited for this task. The situationchanges, however, if a large-scale renewable energy system is envisaged based on a transnational, or eventranscontinental power grid. The present paper discusses a possible European power system in the year2050 and beyond. A high percentage share of renewable energies and a strong power grid spanning thewhole of Europe and involving neighboring countries, in particular those in North Africa, are assumed.The linear programming model URBS is used to describe the power system. The model optimizes theoverall system costs and simulates power plant operation with an hourly resolution for one whole year.The geographical resolution is at least at the country level. The renewable technologies are modeled rston a more local level and then summed together at the country or regional level. The results indicate thatthe smoothing effects of the large-scale power grid transform the intermittent renewable supply, whichis then more compatible with base-load power plants such as fusion reactors.

    2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    a potential technique for large-scale electrical powerin a sustainable way, but is still under development.gies foresee that at least two major advances have

    before commercially viable fusion plants are avail-rst step is the realization of the international ITER

    and the second the construction of a demonstrationt, usually referred to as DEMO. Parallel to this pro-

    also has to be considerable development in technologyals research. ITER is at present under constructione, France; the device is expected to be completed

    d the rst fusion-relevant plasmas will be produced

    ding author. Tel.: +49 89 289 28301.ress: (T. Hamacher).

    in 2025. Design and construction of DEMO could in principlestart earlier, but nal design decisions require that data fromITER on burning plasmas (i.e. deuteriumtritium plasmas that pro-duce more energy from the fusion reaction than that requiredfor heating the plasma) are available. It is therefore unlikelythat commercial fusion power plants will be available before2050.

    What will the electrical power system look like in 2050? Willfusion be able to penetrate the market? These questions can hardlybe answered without making many assumptions, some of whichcan certainly be challenged. However, the question is not to fore-cast the exact penetration rate of fusion in 40 years from now,but to show whether it still makes sense to go ahead with fusionresearch at a time when nuclear ssion as an energy source is beingcalled into question in many countries (the many positive featuresof fusion in comparison with ssion notwithstanding). Answeringthese questions is thus important for making rational decisionstoday.

    see front matter 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.rg/10.1016/j.fusengdes.2013.01.074r fusion and renewable energy forms: A

    Hamachera,, Matthias Hubera, Johannes Dorfnera

    Energiewirtchaft und Anwendungstechnik der Technischen Universitt Mnchen, Arcisnstitut fr Plasmaphysik, Association IPP-Euratom, Boltzmannstr. 2, 85741 Garching, Gstitut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Faradayweg 4-6, 14195 Berlin, Germany

    i g h t s

    ation of intermittent renewable power sources like wind and PV is in a powquoted incompatibility between intermittent and base-load technologies sion in combination with renewable power sources could simplify to reaclocate / fusengdes

    they compatible?

    trin Schabera, Alex M. Bradshawb,c

    e 21, 80333 Mnchen, Germanyy

    European power grid much simpler due to smoothing effects. much less pronounced in large scale power grids.

    bitious greenhouse gas reduction goals.

  • Please cite le enehttp://dx.d

    ARTICLE IN PRESSG ModelFUSION-6594; No. of Pages 42 T. Hamacher et al. / Fusion Engineering and Design xxx (2013) xxx xxx

    From many forecasts and projections we expect that by the year2050 renewable energy forms will start to dominate the power sec-tor. Investment costs for wind turbines, photovoltaic (PV) arraysand other renewable energy systems are expected to decreaseas the result of technological development, mass production andother scaling effects. Fossil fuel costs are expected to rise and CO2-emissions will be strictly limited as part of worldwide measures tocombat global warming. Moreover, the demand for electrical poweris expected to increase. Drivers will be population increase and eco-nomic growth as well as a shift to electricity which may by then bethe dominant nal energy carrier.

    Simple arguments suggest that fusion, with its high investmentcosts and rather limited operational exibility, is not a suitablebase-load technology in this situation because it is not compati-ble with intermittent renewable energy sources. Further, by theyear 2050 the cost of electricity from renewable energies may havereached such a low level that it can no longer be challenged byfusion.

    In this phelp of a pAfrica. Fusiofrom 2050 which techfollows: In ments in elAfrica powbase discusat various le

    2. Future e

    Energy soped countquestion is electricity cble due to talways beeelectricity coped countdependenceThis showsrier with thwith econocial crisis inconsumptioleast for 1 yis shown inhas increas

    Technolincrease in ity is expec









    y G




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    Fig. 1. The dev

    Source: BP.

    examples are heat pumps for domestic heating, electric vehicles intransport and advanced computing centers in the service sector. Forthe purposes of modeling in this paper we assume a slight increaseof the electricity consumption in Europe but a steep increase inNorth Africa.

    3. The electricity model

    The electricity model is based on the model generator URBS [3],which was especially designed to describe energy systems with ahigh share of renewable energies. Investment decisions and powerplant scheduling are the result of a cost minimization process. Theobjective function, which is minimized, includes all system costsincluding investment costs for power plants, transmission lines andstorage plants as well as fuel and operation and maintenance costs.The investment costs were distributed by a conventional annuitymethod to each year of the plant life with an interest rate of 7%. Thesystem is optimized for the year 2050.

    odel of the European and North-African power system forr 2050 was designed. The countries considered are depictedmap of Fig. 2. Each is described as one node in the grided by the model. Neighboring countries are connected by

    lines. Europe and Middle East/North Africa (EUMENA) are in the same way. Compared to the present situation, a signif-crease in the level of power transmission between differentan countries is assumed possible.

    intermittent nature of renewable energies is described withlp of a data set, which includes the wind velocities andrradiation values for a typical year with hourly resolution.velocrceselocd tu

    re, siar pres. A d inads NA000

    . The this article in press as: T. Hamacher, et al., Nuclear fusion and

    aper we attempt to counter these arguments with theower grid model which focuses on Europe and Northn is included in the model as a possible power sourceonwards. A cost optimization process then decides

    nologies are nally applied. The paper is organized asthe next section we discuss probable future develop-ectricity demand. In Section 3 the formal Europe-Norther grid model is presented and the underlying data-sed. Finally, the results for four scenarios with fusionvels of investment are reported in Section 4.

    lectricity consumption

    avings and energy efciency are at least for devel-ries important ingredients in any energy strategy. Thewhether these efforts will actually lead to a decrease inonsumption. A nal answer is unfortunately not possi-he many uncertainties involved. In the past there hasn a strong correlation between economic growth andonsumption. The correlation is very strong for devel-ries, while in developing countries there is a stronger

    of primary energy demand on economic growth [1]. that electricity gains importance as a nal energy car-e economic development of a country. The correlationmic performance also became visible during the nan-

    2009, which resulted in a signicant drop in electricityn in many countries and halted the global increase atear! The development of global electricity generation

    Fig. 1. The plot shows that global electricity generationed on average by 3.6% annually in the last 22 years.ogy-based investigations also show that a continuingglobal electricity consumption is rather likely. Electric-ted to penetrate more nal energy sectors. Prominent








    elopment of the global electricity production in the last 25 years [2].

    A mthe yeain the describpowerlinkedicant inEurope

    Thethe hesolar iWind ous souwind vthe winIn futuA similnologibe founsites leEUMEup to 8

    Fig. 2rgy forms: Are they compatible? Fusion Eng. Des. (2013),

    ities and solar irradiation data were taken from vari-. They are summarized in Ref. [4]. The relation betweenity and power output depends on the characteristics ofrbine. The same characteristics are assumed for all sites.te-dependent characteristics will be taken into account.ocedure is applied for the other renewable energy tech-summary of the power output of the wind turbines can

    Fig. 3. Summing over the geographically dispersed windto a considerably smoothed supply curve (blue curve). Most importantly, the capacity factor remains over 0.2h. This explains why wind plays such an important role

    countries in Europe and North Africa in the power system model.

  • Please citehttp://dx.d

    ARTICLE IN PRESSG ModelFUSION-6594; No. of Pages 4T. Hamacher et al. / Fusion Engineering and Design xxx (2013) xxx xxx 3

    Fig. 3. Annual supply curve for on-shore wind power in various European andNorth-African countries. The blue EUMENA curve is the sum of all sites.

    in the results and why it ts quite well to conventional base loadplants such as fusion.

    Four scenarios are presented. In the rst three the investmentcosts for the underlying fusion technology is varied.

    Fusion 1: 3000 D /kWFusion 2: 4500 D /kWFusion 3: 7500 D /kW

    In the fois new buialternative,

    The othe

    Electricity Electricity Electricity Limit for Cpared to 19

    The majin Table 1. Fet al. [5].

    Only thoas planned which will n

    Table 1Characteristics of major renewable technologies; for biomass a variable cost of4 D /kWh is also assumed.

    Technology Investment cost (D /kW) Fix cost (D /kW) Lifetime (a)

    CCGT 750 11 30PV-rooftop 1080 29 25PV-utility 801 22 25Wind-on 932 31 25Wind-off 1495 60 20Biomass 2450 80 25

    assumptions used in, and the results from, this study can be foundin [5]. The results presented here are in part preliminary and requirefurther renement. This is particularly true for the wind data.

    4. Results

    The major results are presented in Fig. 4. In scenario Fusion1 with rather moderate investment costs, fusion would domi-nate with more than 50% the electricity production. The averageelectricity price would be down by 2 cents/kWh compared to theother scenarios. The extension of the power grid would be rathermoderate. As perhaps expected, the share of fusion decreases withincreasing fusion investment costs. However, even with very highinvestment costs, fusion would contribute 15% to overall electricity

    tionittenhe foes su. Remoughle ag

    canerablariologief ren



    to d frourth, renewable scenario fusion is not available (norld ssion, which might conceivably in 40 years be an

    even if this seems unlikely at present).r major assumptions are as follows:

    demand in Europe: 000 TWh/ademand in Turkey: 509 TWh/ademand in MENA: 970 TWh/aO2 emissions in Europe, which is a 95% reduction com-90: 143 Mt/a

    or characteristics of the technologies are summarizedurther information can be found in the report of Huber

    se pump storage options at present existing, as wellnew plants are assumed to be available. This is a pointeed more detailed investigation in future. The detailed


    In tnologipowerplies ris stabnologyconsidall scentechnoshare opowerAfrica.

    Thevery efquicklysupplie

    Fusion 2

    Fusion 3 this article in press as: T. Hamacher, et al., Nuclear fusion and renewable



    Fusion 1

    Electricity production [TWh/a]

    Fig. 4. Electricity production in the four sc. In this scenario 50% of the production is contributed byt sources, mainly wind.urth, renewable scenario only gas and renewable tech-pply electricity. Gas supplies less than 10% of the overallarkable is the dominant role of wind power. Wind sup-ly 50% of the electricity. The dominant role of windainst sensitivity variations. No other renewable tech-

    gain a similar importance, even if costs are reducedy. Technologies using direct solar radiation supply ins less than 10% of the overall production. Possible news such as ocean power were not considered. The highewable energies requires a strong reinforcement of theections within Europe and between Europe and North

    of natural gas as back-up is still rather important. Event combined-cycle power plants will still be able to react

    dynamic load changes. The gas needs, however, to bem s...


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