While solar and wind power may be hot topics at the moment, it is nuclear fusion which many scientists are looking to for providing clean power to the world. The ITER experiment is an effort by multiple nations to build the first prototype, commercial fusion reactor. Now researchers at the European Fusion Development Agreement have released a roadmap for ITER and the DEMO power plant to follow.
Nuclear fusion releases energy by combining the nuclei of light atoms including deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen. These materials, especially deuterium, are relatively common, and the fusion process produces little, harmful waste as even the radioactive waste is short-lived. One of the challenges with associated with a fusion reactor though is having it produce more power than it takes, and that is part of the focus of the roadmap. The document lays out the current status of ongoing research, identifies open issues, and even estimates the materials required for completion by 2050.
The roadmap describes three time phases in it with the first period (2014-2020) focused on the construction of ITER itself, the second period (2021-2030) further developing ITER to its maximum potential, and the third period (2031-2050) dedicated to creating DEMO. DEMO is to be the actual power plant that will be connected to a power grid, while ITER is the experimental precursor.