Innovative Technology Series: Recent Trends Surrounding Fusion Energy Power Generation

Mizuho Industry Research
March 2024

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Key Highlights

  • Fusion energy research has been undertaken by public institutions in particular for some time. In recent years, a certain degree of success has been achieved in various areas, including the generation and maintenance of high temperature plasma required for fusion energy and reduced costs through technological progress. This is one reason for the increase in private sector development and funding.
  • Research and development in not only fusion energy but the areas of fuel extraction, breeding, and efficient heat recovery needed for fusion energy power generation has reached a stage where it can finally be incorporated into further development steps. While there are numerous technical challenges for all these processes, and the commercialization of fusion power generation in the 2030s will be challenging, technical innovation could make this feasible.
  • Looking at developments beyond Japan, the US and UK governments have announced strategies for construction and operation of fusion reactors in 2035 and 2040 respectively. Moreover, fusion start-ups in the US and Europe that have raised enormous funds at a scale of billions of US dollars have issued targets for commercialization that are earlier than the government targets. Reactors are currently being constructed for verification purposes, and depending on their success power generation commercialization could be brought forward.
  • The statements from major start-ups about commercialization of power generation in the 2030s indicates more ambitious goals for the timing of commercialization than before. This is intended to attract investment from investors and companies that place importance on social demand, including for the achievement of the 2050 carbon neutrality goal and energy security.
  • The Japanese government’s focus is on taking steps based on the progress of the transnational ITER project. It aims to commence construction of a prototype reactor immediately following the 2035 combustion experiment, and to demonstrate power generation from the prototype reactor in 2045. In addition, Japan has formulated its “Fusion Energy Innovation Strategy” as an independent initiative and has also started supporting fusion start-ups based on that strategy.
  • Given the uncertainty about which fusion energy power generation method will be successfully commercialized, it is important to promote not only fusion reactors but the fusion industry in general, including peripheral areas that Japan has a strength in. In addition, looking ahead to the commercialization of power generation, Japan’s industrial sector needs to strengthen its involvement through various means, including investment in and alliances with start-ups engaged in the fusion reactor space. This will also accelerate research and development in the area of fusion reactors.


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