This report summarises studies carried out as part of Macro task SE0, long term scenarios, in the framework of a programme on Socio-Economic Research on Fusion (SERF). The SERF programme has been adopted by the EU, DG XII, in 1997. Fusion power is a technology with long term potential (beyond 2050) and deserves particular attention because it is a CO2 free and virtually inexhaustible energy source. Fusion power, presumed it would be technically feasible, will have more impact for OECD countries than for developing countries. It is deemed more expensive than currently available alternatives such as fission power and coal-fired power. For the period 2070 to 2100 it comes out as an economically viable option in case of CO2 reduction policy.
This study contains the results of studies carried out as part of Macro task SE0, long term scenarios.
The present study focuses on the potential of fusion power in Europe in the 21st century. The study includes two scenarios and more than 60 scenario variants. In the scenario variants the assumptions with respect to CO2 policy, fossil fuel availability, discount rates, and characteristics of fusion power and competing technologies have been varied. The model used is a MARKAL model of the Western European energy system.
Fusion power is not cost effective in the absence of CO2 policy, as its generating costs are higher than those of coal-fired power and fission power. Fusion power comes out as a cost-effective option in case of CO2 reduction policies. Under such circumstances coal-fired power loses market share. Fusion power starts to become economically attractive at marginal cost levels between 32 and 67 ECU/tCO2. The economic potential of fusion power appears to be relatively insensitive to changes in assumptions with respect to competing technologies and fusion power itself, as well as availability of natural gas, and discount rate. Fusion power is not indispensable to obtain substantial CO2 reduction, if need would be.
However, it is difficult to indicate alternatives to fusion power. Experience with fission power as we know it today has been troublesome. Technical breakthroughs that would simultaneously solve the issues of safety, hazards of actinides, and risk of proliferation are to be awaited. Coal-fired power with CO2 separation and geological sequestration is not yet a full-grown option. Due to depletion of fossil fuel resources and scarcity of cheap geological CO2 sequestration, it will not be a lasting alternative to fusion power.
Renewables - hydro, biomass, wind, photovoltaic power - could make
substantial inroads in the power generation market. However, wind
and solar energy are intermittent energy sources, which cannot
substitute base-load power options like fusion power.
This report gives an overview of power generation options in the MARKAL model
for Western Europe. This model has been used for the evaluation of the economic
potential of fusion power in Western Europe in the 21st century. Such an evaluation
was part of the so-called SERF programme of the European Union (DG XII).
The economic potential of fusion power, as analysed by ECN Policy Studies,
is reported in the macro task SE0, which addresses long term scenarios.
The present report describes the power generation options included in the
model of the Western European energy system, on behalf of macro task E1,
cost of fusion. The cost data are expressed as ECU of the year 1995.