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Nuclear fusion and renewable energy forms: Are they compatible?
Fusion Engineering and Design, vol. 88, no. 6-8, pp. 657-660
Nuclear fusion can be considered as a base-load power plant technology: High investment costs and limited operational flexibility require continuous operation. Wind and solar, on the other hand, as the putative main pillars of a future renewable energy system, are intermittent power sources. The resulting variations that occur on many different time scales require at first sight a rather flexible back-up system to balance this stochastic behavior. Fusion would appear not to be well suited for this task. The situation changes, however, if a large-scale renewable energy system is envisaged based on a transnational, or even transcontinental power grid. The present paper discusses a possible European power system in the year 2050 and beyond. A high percentage share of renewable energies and a strong power grid spanning the whole 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 the overall 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 first on a more local level and then summed together at the country or regional level. The results indicate that the smoothing effects of the large-scale power grid transform the intermittent renewable supply, which is then more compatible with base-load power plants such as fusion reactors.