2030s target for grid connected fusion energy

Private companies are targeting commercial fusion and producing significant breakthroughs that will lead to a commercial power plant, a survey has found.

The Global Fusion Industry in 2021 survey from the Fusion Industry Association and the UK Atomic Energy Authority compiled information from 23 private companies developing commercial fusion power.

“Fusion has the potential to revolutionise the low-carbon energy supply and provide the non-variable power that will be required to meet the world’s ambitious goals. This report shows how, largely outside the headlines, the private fusion industry is accelerating towards commercial power,” said Melanie Windridge, communications director at the Fusion Industry Association. “The ambitious timescales highlighted in our first Fusion Companies Survey demonstrate the drive and commitment that exists within this growing industry.”

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There are now at least 35 global fusion companies (12 are either early stage or in stealth mode so declined to participate in the survey) and progress is accelerating. Of the 23 companies featured, 15 (65 per cent) were founded since 2010.

fusion energy
Rendering of First Light Fusion’s M3 machine. Image: First Light Fusion

18 of the 23 companies have declared private funding of almost $1.8bn to date, plus an additional $85m in grants and other funding from governments taking the total to $1.87bn.  Four companies – Commonwealth Fusion Systems, General Fusion, TAE Technologies and Tokamak Energy – currently account for 85 per cent of this funding.

The survey found that 71 per cent of companies believe a 2030s target for grid connection is achievable for fusion, while 20 per cent believe that it won’t be ready until the 2040s or 50s.

Electricity generation was named as a core target market for all but one of the companies questioned (96 per cent), but almost half see the possibility of also applying their technology to space propulsion.

“The global need for abundant low-carbon energy now presents itself to us with a stark clarity, and so the imperative for fusion energy has never been greater,” said Tim Bestwick, CTO at UKAEA. “We are very pleased to have partnered with FIA to produce this survey, which we hope will be a useful and important reference for all of us involved in this exciting new industry.”