Fusion Power has been a holy grail for harvesting energy that has remained at the end of the rainbow. This might change in the coming decade as ITER prepares to deliver, on schedule, its prototype fusion reactor.
In December a team of researchers working at the UK Atomic Energy Laboratories have found out how to dissipate the enormous heat (in the order of 100 M degrees C, hotter than the Sun). They have created a wall for the fusion reactor made of a special material that will slowly evaporate thus dissipate the heat created at the fusion core.
A fusion reactor (the most credited architecture is the tokamak, a torus shaped cavity) uses hot (very hot indeed) plasma that is contained in a limited space by extremely strong magnetic fields so that it can both keeps its temperature (needed for sustaining the fusion reaction -it has to be hotter than the Sun since it operates at a lower pressure than in the Sun) and avoid melting what is around it. Still the amount of heat dissipation is huge and it has been a major stumbling block in the construction of a workable reactor.
The wall created by the UK researchers may be the long sought solution to this problem. It is not the only problem that needs to be solved but the general consensus among scientists working on ITER is that by 2025 we will have the first fusion reactor that will be able to produce more power than the one it has to use to operate (the goal is 10 times as much).
Beware, that will be just a prototype. If all goes well it will open the door to industrial manufacturing and to clean and abundant power in the second half of this century.
That will clearly be a major, disruptive change that will impact the economics world wide.