While Texas is mired in a controversy over building old-fashioned polluting coal-burning power plants, the rest of the world is looking to the future. Today, representatives from the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States are meeting in Paris to sign an agreement to jointly build the world's first nuclear fusion reactor.
Instead of splitting the atom to create energy, as today's nuclear power plants do, the new reactor [dubbed ITER for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor] will fuse atoms to create energy, much the same as our sun does.
The reactor would provide a clean and limitless supply of energy, and would only require a tiny amount of fuel. Scientists say the energy released from a fusion reaction is 10 million times greater than that released from burning coal.
The fusion reactor is to be built in Cadarache, France. The construction will begin in 2007 and is expected to be completed in 2017. It is expected to have a life-span of 40 years.
It will cost 4.6 billion euros. Half of the money will come from the European Union. The rest of the expense is to be paid in equal shares by the other participants.