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The U.S. Announces Historic Discovery In Renewable Energy. 'The Sky's the Limit.'

After decades of experiments around the word, researchers in California have finally figured out how to create net energy gain, but there is still a long road ahead.


The world is one giant leap closer to replicating how the sun generates power — a process that, scientists say, would be a clean, renewable energy source and a remedy for our reliance on fossil fuels.

The historic announcement was made at a press conference by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century," Jennifer Granholm, U.S. energy secretary told reporters. "It strengthens our national security, and ignition allows us to replicate certain conditions only found in the stars and the sun."

What researchers discovered

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California bombarded a pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world's largest laser to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction that creates a net energy gain, according to a report in the Financial Times.

This would be the first time scientists have been able to create a fusion reaction that produces more energy than it consumes.

"The day you get more energy out than you put in, the sky's the limit," American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told CBS News.

The United States, Russia, and various European countries have spent billions trying to master net energy gain for decades. Now the net energy technology is finally here.

Researchers produced 2.5 megajoules of energy, 120 percent of the 2.1 megajoules used to power the experiment.

Related: Here's Why The World Needs Investments To Pour Into Renewables Now

Long road ahead

But don't expect the new discovery to change the world overnight.

"The resources needed to recreate the reaction on the scale required to make fusion practical for energy production are immense," according to the Washington Post.

For one, we still need to create machinery that can affordably turn the nuclear reaction into electricity that can be used on the power grid.

Second, "building devices that are large enough to create fusion power at scale, scientists say, would require materials that are extraordinarily difficult to produce. At the same time, the reaction creates neutrons that put a tremendous amount of stress on the equipment creating it, such that it can get destroyed in the process," reports WaPo.

Still, the announcement is a huge breakthrough in the search for clean, cheap, renewable energy, and one that governments looking to invest money into alternatives to fossil fuels will take very seriously.

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