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Nuclear fusion sets record

Europe's flagship nuclear fusion programme has achieved a new record power output, taking the world another small but significant step down the long road to a virtually unlimited, environmentally friendly fuel source. Earlier this week the Joint European Torus (JET) in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, set a new record by generating more than 12 megawatts of fusion power - the same process that fuels the sun. This set a record for the ratio of power generated to power input: JET achieved an "efficiency" of 50 per cent, double that achieved before.

Fusion would create no hazardous waste, and could be fuelled from the sea for millions of years. However, the main thing that fusion generates at the moment is bills: JET alone has an annual budget of pounds 54m. But scientists do not think a fusion power station will be feasible until the middle of the next century, 100 years after the concept was devised.