Can we harness the energy of an earth-bound sun? It’s a question that has obsessed and perplexed scientists for more than half a century. According to Professor Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy CCFE and chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, it remains one of the “great quests” in science.For the uninitiated, it’s the kind of big idea that makes your head spin: we’re talking about mimicking the process that powers the stars, heating hydrogen atoms to temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees celsius – the point at which they fuse into heavier helium atoms – and releasing energy in the process.
Back to the future: are we about to crack nuclear fusion? | The big energy debate