More invested in nuclear fusion in the last 12 months than the last decade

Big bang moment: Nuclear fusion produces clean energy by fusing together atomic nuclei. It is the reaction that powers the Sun and sustains life on Earth

According to new industry figures, more investment has gone into nuclear fusion in the past 12 months than in the past decade.

The clean energy solution has attracted around $2.8bn (£2.5bn) in investment globally over the past year, up from $1.9bn (£1.6bn pounds sterling) in total over the past decade.

The solution produces clean energy by fusing atomic nuclei. It is the reaction that powers the Sun and in turn powers life on Earth.

However, replicating the reaction for energy has so far proven difficult for scientists, requiring more energy to trigger the reaction than it can currently generate.

Nonetheless, the energy solution is favored by the government, and plans are in place for the UK’s first prototype fusion power station to support rapid commercialization, with five places vying to house it.

There was also a breakthrough at the end of 2021, when researchers at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility in Oxford managed to release a record 59 megajoules of fusion – almost tripling the previous record of 21.7 megajoules from 1997.

Nuclear fusion is also safer than traditional fission nuclear energy, which splits nuclei rather than fusing them together to produce energy. Unlike nuclear fission, with fusion there is no risk of radioactive waste and the reactor materials can be recycled within 100 to 300 years.

Investment in fusion is still overshadowed by major energy sources, but according to the Fusion Energy Associationeight new UK companies have entered the merger space in the past 12 months.

Andrew Holland, Commercial Group Managing Director, said: “This funding will allow merger companies to push towards their ‘Kitty Hawk moment’ in the years to come. From there, companies will quickly build the pilot plants that will prove fusion power is ready for the market.

“If we make the necessary investments now, fusion energy should provide the basis for prosperity, safety and security.”

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