The latest survey from the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) – “The global fusion industry in 2022”, provides a snapshot of the state of the growing fusion industry in 2022. The completion of the 31-page survey was supported by Trinomics, as part of a European Commission-funded study on fusion energy development worldwide. FIA says the report will continue to be updated annually, and is an updated version of the 2021 report.
Some $2.83 billion was declared in new funding compared with $2.03 billion in the 2021 survey and the report included responses from 33 companies, up from 23 in 2021. These included eight companies that were newly founded “or emerged from stealth mode”.
At the time of publishing, 29 of the 33 companies featured were members of the Fusion Industry Association. In the survey, declared private funding surpasses $4.7 billion, plus an additional $117 million in grants and other funding from governments, taking the total to over $4.8 billion. This is a 139% increase in funding since 2021. These included notable investments including a massive $1.8bn investment into Commonwealth Fusion Systems, $500m into Helion Energy and several important ones over $100m.
The survey found that 93% of companies believe that fusion electricity will be on the grid in the 2030s or before, an achievable target for the commercialisation of fusion as a clean energy technology. This compares with 83% in 2021. In addition, 84% think a fusion plant will demonstrate a low enough cost and high enough efficiency to be considered commercially viable in the same timeframe. The technologies of the featured companies included Magnetic confinement (15) Inertial confinement (8) Magneto-intertial (7) Electrostatic Hybrid (2) and Muon-catalysed fusion (1).
In the Foreword to the report, FIA said: ”When the history books are written about fusion energy, the last 12 months will be seen as the turning point when it became clear that fusion would move out of the laboratories and into the marketplace.” It cited a number of examples, including a controlled “burning plasma” for the first time at the National Ignition Facility in California, record amounts of energy produced from the Joint European Torus in Oxford, and record lengths of high-temperature plasma confinement at KSTAR in South Korea and at EAST in China.
“Not to be outdone, privately funded fusion companies in the FIA reached important milestones of their own: Commonwealth Fusion Systems in Massachusetts demonstrated the world’s strongest magnet, while Helion in Washington and Tokamak Energy in the UK each reached milestone plasma temperatures of above 100 million degrees, and General Fusion in Canada proved their ability to precisely compress a plasma.”
These successes have begun to attract private investment, allowing the fusion industry to build the proof-of-concept devices that will show fusion energy can work. FIA noted: “As fusion transitions from the lab to commercialization, private companies need governments to become a real partner in this effort. 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. In a virtuous cycle, greater investment and partnerships will ‘crowd in’ more private fusion investment and show the value of the way forward.”