The landscape for commercial fusion energy investment, research, and planned deployment is rapidly changing. Fusion has significant potential to support the rapid decarbonization.
Over $1.5 billion in private investment has flowed been injected into new commercial fusion energy enterprises in recent years, eclipsing private investment in commercial nuclear fission over the same time period. Several significant technological and commercial barriers must be overcome, but viable fusion technology, if achieved, could play a substantial role in the world achieving its clean energy goals between 2030 and 2050. Clean Air Task Force activities in this focus area seek to make recommendations and provide data to determine if and what role fusion energy technology can or should play in future clean energy systems. Current projects and activities under this focus area are:
- Commercial Fusion Energy Assessment – Commercial fusion energy developers barely existed less than a decade ago and are an expanding, well-funded set of technologists focused on deploying viable technology in the near term. Clean Air Task Force’s Global Fusion Map (shown below) is regularly updated to track investment and growth in the commercial fusion ecosystem. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research seek to assess the viability of commercial fusion and what role it might play in future clean energy systems.
- Research and Development Priorities – A wide range of opportunities and challenges must be overcome to demonstrate fusion technologies for successful commercial application. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research seek to determine the best areas to apply research and development funding for maximum impact and to address cross-cutting technology challenges.
- Safety, Proliferation, and Regulation – Clean Air Task Force is uniquely suited to assess best practices, challenges, and opportunities posed by fusion technology that may be in some way similar or analogous to other areas, such as nuclear fission or zero carbon fuels. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area seek to determine what are the safety, proliferation (if any), security, and regulatory challenges and best practices for the commercial deployment of fusion energy technology.
- Market Analysis, Opportunities, and Barriers – The unique aspects of fusion as an energy technology, and the dynamic nature of fusion developers, means that avenues other than the electricity market may be available for the commercialization of fusion. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area seek to explore how commercial fusion efforts might best capitalize on the unique attributes of the technology to address the decarbonization of non-electricity energy markets.