New Report shows massive growth in the Fusion Energy Industry

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Private fusion companies have seen more than a double in investment in the last year. Eight new companies were founded, bringing the total number to 33.

New technology companies like Kyoto Fusioneering, Japan, are also supporting power plant development.

Surveys of private fusion energy businesses launched today revealed that more than $4.8bn in funding was declared by fusion companies, an increase of 139% over last year. The first time that private investment has exceeded government funding in fusion energy is historic.

The Global Fusion Industry 2022The second annual survey is from the Fusion Industry AssociationTrinomics funded the fusion energy assessment (FIA), which was part of a study on fusion development in Europe. The survery will create a directory of fusion-energy businesses and provide periodic updates about the sector. This year, 33 private companies developing commercial fusion took part – up from 23 last year – including all of the industry’s most advanced players.

Eight new fusion companies have been founded since the last report, a sign of the industry’s rapid growth and investor confidence. Six companies have raised more than $200m, including notable investments of over $1.8billion for Commonwealth Fusion Systems and $500m to Helion Energy in the last 12 months. This allows them to build pilot plants that will demonstrate fusion electricity.

The fusion industry is experiencing increased confidence due to the huge increase in investment and increasing government support.

In their most recent legislation, the U.K. included fusion. Energy Security BillThe United States will be the first to establish a regulatory framework. The U.S. has made a commitment to support public-private partnerships that are in line with their Bold Decadal VisionSet out in March of this year.

FOREBES: MOREU.K. Serios about Fusion: New Report on Regulation Recommends Proportionate and Agile Approach

Andrew Holland, Chief Executive Officer of the Fusion Industry Association, states in the report, “We must not see a ‘competition’ between publicly funded and privately funded fusion approaches; instead, we must build real partnerships. As the private sector builds the power plants, governments will need to build the infrastructure and train the workforce that enable the fusion energy revolution.”

These actions are increasing confidence in the timelines when fusion power will be realized. More than 93% of the survey respondents—all people working in private fusion companies—now believe that fusion power will first be on the grid by the 2030s, up from 83% last year. A further 84% believe that fusion power will be economically viable if it is able to demonstrate low costs and high efficiency.

These ambitions are being supported by the wider industry. Last week, Kyoto FusioneeringThe technology start-up was founded in 2019 and focuses on developing advanced technologies to commercialize fusion reactors. It announced the construction a fusion testing facility for equipment. This facility is designed to demonstrate electricity generation by fusion relevant technologies in 2024.

The new facility was named UNITY: Unique Integrated Testing FacilityThe facility will be used to test both heat extraction and fuel cycle systems for fusion power plants.

Kyoto Fusioneering was the first private company or government laboratory to test these technologies for fusion in an integrated system. It’s an important step because private fusion companies all aim to demonstrate scientific feasibility in the 2020s, that is to get more energy out of their fusion reactions than it takes to get them going (energy gain). It will take some innovative and untested technologies to build a pilot facility.

For example, Richard Pearson, Chief Innovator & U.K. Director of Kyoto Fusioneering, said: “Breeding blankets, which are a critical path technology for commercial reactors, both for the fuel cycle and power generation, have never been fabricated for testing at even subsystem level in anything close to a relevant environment. We will be doing that—and more—on UNITY.”

UNITY will serve as the platform of choice for testing power generation systems by private fusion firms, allowing them to devote their resources to fusion core development.

Construction of ITER in South France, which is the largest fusion experimental device on the planet, is well under way, complements the strong growth in private fusion. (See Pictures of construction progressYou can find their website. This collaborative project is the focal point of most of the publicly funded research globally. It has been a tremendous stimulus to the supply chain for fusion and also helped grow the fusion knowledge base.

Private companies are currently building on this foundation, but they hope to accelerate their progress in response to the urgent need for clean energy.

According to the FIA’s new survey, electricity remains the main market for 85% of fusion companies. Next comes off grid energy or hydrogen (each name by 27% of respondents). This highlights the potential of fusion as a means to decarbonize the global economy and produce electricity to the grid.

“The results of this report show that fusion is on a pathway towards commercial relevance, at a time when the world desperately needs new clean energy options,” comments Andrew Holland.

“With investment accelerating, it is increasingly likely that commercial fusion will become a reality within the next two decades, providing the basis for prosperity, safety, and security for many years to come.”

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