Climate change, clean technology and innovation are now identified in provincial and federal agendas as major issues facing Canada’s (and the world’s) future. The central questions are
threefold: 1) how do we satisfy the large future energy requirements of the developed and especially developing countries; 2) how do we do this in a sustainable, environmentally
acceptable way and; 3) how do we ensure suitable economic opportunity for our children, grandchildren and future generations in an energy dependent society? Associated issues
include: how does this fit into the international scene and, where does Canada want to position itself in this new energy future?
We are aware that the fossil fuel era will be short-lived (centuries, not millennia) due to both supply and environmental constraints. There are long-term energy solutions that do not depend
on carbon fuels:
- fission (sustainable with fuel breeding – but has radioactive waste to manage);
- intermittent renewables such as wind and solar (sustainable – but constrained in application due to factors such as availability and variability);
- steady renewables such as hydro and geothermal (sustainable, but limited growth potential and/or geographic constraints);
- fusion (sustainable – and environmentally acceptable).
Fusion is the energy source that powers the sun and all stars. Apart from having the highest energy density of any source, fusion has the best energy payback ratio (EPR) and carbon life
cycle footprint of any source (including solar, wind and fission).
Fusion, as a primary energy source is particularly suited for industrial scale heat, electricity and hydrogen production. Fusion will be especially important for generating electricity – comprising
an increasing proportion of energy used to support a growing demand in mobile and stationary applications (think of mid-century autos running exclusively on electricity or hydrogen fuel cells).