Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Plowboy Interview talks to Amory Lovins

The original, very long interview is here. Below are the controversial highlights (page 13 of the web page)

The Plowboy Interviews spotlights Amory Lovins, energy Analyst and environmentalist and author of the 1976 essay, "Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?"
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors | November/December 1977

Mother Earth: it wasn't so long ago that our energy leaders were pointing at atomic fission as the panacea that would — in a couple of decades — solve all our energy worries forever.

Amory Lovins: Yes. And now it seems that many people have begun to say the same sorts of things about nuclear fusion. The people who are always saying "something will come along to save us" are now pointing to fusion.

Mother Earth: What do you think of fusion's potential?

Amory Lovins: I used to think it would be a good idea to try to build a fusion reactor, but I don't think so anymore, for three reasons.

First, fusion will — at least with the designs we're pursuing now — be rather dirty. It won't be quite as bad as fast breeder reactors, but it won't be clean enough to be attractive. You'll still have the problem of what to do with radioactive wastes. But even if — contrary to most fusion experts' expectations — fusion turns out to be a clean source of energy as advertised, I think we would lack the discipline to use it with restraint. If you ask me, it'd be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.

Which brings me to my second point . . . namely, that fusion produces a lot of fast neutrons that could — and probably would — be used to make bomb materials. The kind of fusion research that involves compressing pellets by means of high-energy lasers is a technology that I think should be abandoned immediately because of its very worrisome military implications.

Thirdly, fusion is nothing but a very clever way to do something that we don't really want to do. That is, it's just another complex, costly, slow-to-deploy, centralized, high-technology way to make electricity. And that's not what we need.

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