Following a recent spending review the British government has announced that the HS2 high speed train line being built between London and Birmingham will cost more than previously anticipated. The new estimates place the cost of the project, which will be finished around 2033, at £42.6 billion for construction, and then £7.5 billion for the trains, coming in at a little more than £50 billion in total.
That happens to be around the same amount that it has been predicted would be needed to develop nuclear fusion energy.
Construction continues on the HS2. (HS2.org.uk)
Now knowing that, the government should find itself in a dilemma. Reduce the commute between London and Birmingham by 35 minutes, or develop a virtually limitless, source of cheap, clean energy that could significantly reduce the world’s carbon emissions.
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Not much of a dilemma when it’s put like that!
Now the HS2 will bring economic benefits to the UK, but these are incredibly difficult to quantify as it is still unknown exactly how the line will fit into the rest of the country’s transport system; nuclear fusion however, will definitely provide huge economic, environmental, and social benefits.
Now some of you may wonder if fusion is actually achievable for £50 billion, and the truth is that no one knows. It may take many decades and hundreds of billions of pounds to perfect the technology, or if breakthroughs are made far faster than anticipated it could happen in a decade or so and only tens of billions of pounds.
At the same time, estimates for the HS2 could be as inaccurate as those for fusion, mega-infrastructure projects tend to run over budget and over schedule all the time. The only main difference being is that nuclear fusion could cost less and be ready quicker, and the HS2 never will.
Related Article: Scientists Close to Building Nuclear Fusion Powered Rocket
JET reactor in Oxfordshire. (EFDA)
The JET reactor in Oxfordshire has already managed to create a fusion reaction, the only thing that scientists must work on now is creating a continuous reaction that can produce affordable energy. Most hopes lie in giant fusion projects such as the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) in Europe, however it is generally agreed that breakthroughs are more likely to be achieved in smaller scale projects on a far shorter time frame.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com