The hype about nuclear fusion as a solution to the climate crisis

sRarely do research findings attract as much attention as those presented at a press conference Tuesday: At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, a small capsule of frozen hydrogen was heated and compressed using laser energy to the point where nuclear fusion occurred, according to the institute, releasing more of energy for the first time more than used. It is one of the most impressive scientific achievements of the century, said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm: it will help “solve humanity’s most complex and pressing problems, such as providing clean energy to combat climate change”, advancing “the future of science and … changed humanity”.

The Federal Research Minister said it was “a historic day for future energy supplies”. Bettina Stark Watzinger (FDP) in a prepared statement. Several media outlets have featured this topic prominently, So does the FAZ But there was little mention often that the announced “breakthrough” is progress but not yet a revolution. Something similar was actually achieved last year with somewhat lower power output, which may now have been improved thanks to a slightly different experimental setup. The ministry announcements also failed to mention that this time more than a hundred times the energy had to be used in the laser.

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