The Department of Energy announced a breakthrough in nuclear fusion on Tuesday: Scientists at a laboratory in California created a reaction that produced more energy than went into making it. It’s a critical prerequisite to technology that could harness the same type of energy that powers the sun and use it to power our cities.
But the running joke is that nuclear fusion is the future of energy — and always will be. Plenty of climate activists and business analysts see fossil fuel alternatives in the here and now, including wind, solar, and old-fashioned nuclear fission, as a more realistic path forward given the many hurdles left for fusion.
It’s hard to adjudicate this debate without an advanced degree in nuclear physics, though, so we texted someone who has one: Ernest Moniz, former Secretary of Energy under President Obama and current board member at fusion energy company TAE Technologies. Here’s our exchange.