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Creating “Artificial Suns”: the Sino-Western race to master limitless clean energy through nuclear fusion

Wilson Kia Onn Wong (S P Jain School of Global Management, Singapore Campus, Singapore) (Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 29 December 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023

39

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the intensifying efforts by China and the West to harness the clean, limitless energy of nuclear fusion. However, it argues that this “holy grail” of a fusion future is only achievable through an optimal combination of mission-oriented public–private cooperation and genuine intergovernmental cooperation.

Design/methodology/approach

This study deploys a case-study approach, augmented by relevant literature, to analyse the advances in fusion technology.

Findings

Despite purported recent advances in fusion technology, these advances remain largely “proof of concept” experiments rather than commercially viable technologies that enable us to truly harness the infinite power of these “artificial suns”. To achieve the moonshot goal of delivering practicable “net energy gain” from fusion power, this study advocates shedding hubristic political “one-upmanship” amongst rival governments. Further, it urges focussing the ingenuity, along with the financial and scientific resources of all stakeholders (both public and private) across the globe to bring about this “fusion dawn”. Moreover, efforts to deliver fusion power face significant competition from other clean energy sources (wind, solar power and nuclear fission reactors) that are not only technically far less challenging but also economically more viable with their declining cost structures.

Originality/value

This study is possibly one of the few social science papers that examines the prospect of clean, limitless fusion power along with the challenges it faces and its societal implications.

Keywords

Citation

Wong, W.K.O. (2023), "Creating “Artificial Suns”: the Sino-Western race to master limitless clean energy through nuclear fusion", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 28-39. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEDS-03-2022-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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