Fusion industry attracts another $1.4bn

Tokamak fusion reactor concept.

The fusion industry has now attracted a total of $6.21 billion in investment (up from $4.8bn last year), after another $1.4bn flowed in over the last year, according to the Fusion Industry Association (FIA).The data is reported in the FIA’s ‘The Global Fusion Industry in 2023’ report, which surveyed 43 private fusion companies, and was launched at an event in Oxford on 11th July.The additional funding comes from 27 individual investments, which include $250m for TAE, $200m for ENN, $79m for Kyoto Fusioneering, $55m for Energy Singularity, and many more.Growth comes not just from established companies, but from new entrants to the fusion race. Thirteen fusion companies were founded or emerged from stealth mode in the past year, making this year’s fusion industry survey, with 44 entrants, the largest ever.Though the US continues to lead the race with 25 active fusion companies (including many of the largest) the industry is becoming more geographically diverse, with 12 countries now fielding at least one fusion company. This year’s survey included new entrants from New Zealand (Openstar), Sweden (Novatron), Germany (Gauss, Proxima), and China (Energy Singularity).While the total new funding announced this year is less than last year’s $2.8bn, it shows continued investment in and excitement about the industry, says the FIA, even as many technology investors have pulled back in other fields. Last year’s survey was dominated by a couple of big investments ($1.8 billion in Commonwealth Fusion Systems and $500m in Helion Energy), while this year saw a much wider range of smaller but significant investments, including bets on emerging companies and new fusion approaches. “It is clear that fusion is still growing, and the market hasn’t down-selected yet,” says Andrew Holland, Chief Executive Officer of the Fusion Industry Association “and there is still lots to play for.”Meanwhile, companies that had previously secured funding are growing. Respondents claimed to have created 975 new jobs in the last year at their companies, and around 3,000 jobs in the supply chain, though this is likely to be an undercount as not all companies responded to this question.Optimism about fusion remains high. Four companies believe they will deliver power to the grid by 2030, and 19 by 2035.Delivering power is not same as being commercially viable, and challenges remain. Commercial viability requires low enough cost, and high enough efficiency in converting energy, to make fusion profitable. Eighteen companies predict that their fusion approach will be commercially viable by 2035 and a further 13 by 2040.Andrew Holland, Chief Executive Officer of the Fusion Industry Association, says: “Although growth in investment is down from 2022, we still saw a few pretty sizeable investments and a growing volume of smaller ones, totaling $1.4bn, in a period where fears of inflation, interest rate increases, and even bank failures led many investors to hold onto their money.”“Beyond private investment, it is also notable that we are seeing an increase in public-private partnerships, and an emerging regulatory framework for fusion, which will de-risk future investments. This shows that governments are beginning to plan for fusion energy and a sure sign of a maturing industry. This all comes as companies report they are increasingly confident of hitting their ambitious milestones.”“Nonetheless, almost every company still thinks funding is a challenge, as plenty more money will still be needed to solve the remaining science and engineering challenge and reach commercial viability. But every year we publish this report, the rewards of getting it right – unlimited clean energy – feel ever closer.”