Yesterday, the Department of Energy (DOE) officially announced that experiments at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) were able to achieve fusion ignition.
This milestone implies "scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it."
Fusion ignition is particularly impactful because it is considered to significant progress towards carbon-free power that scientists have been aiming towards for decades. The net energy gain described in the press release is revolutionary as it opens doors for fusion as a viable, cheap and accessible energy source. Unlike nuclear fission, fusion produces "no long-lived radioactive waste," which adds an environmental and financial benefit to this process.
President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in August, further expands investment into nuclear fusion research and technology. In fact, per Forbes, the law includes $280 million for the DOE's Office of Science “to carry out activities for fusion energy science construction and major items of equipment projects.” This, along with the DOE loan programs, can help companies that are seeking to break into or grow their investments in nuclear fusion projects.
Who are the beneficiaries of this news? Clean energy and fusion technology companies are particularly suited to benefit from breakthroughs in this space, and easier funding access through governmental policies can help these companies grow closer to energy-efficient alternatives. This technology is growing in the private markets. According to Forbes, about 33 companies are involved in nuclear fusion research, none of which are publicly traded. In fact, Newsweek shared that privately funded nuclear fusion research gained around $2.8 billion in investments bringing total investments to nearly $5 billion.
We'll eagerly continue watching how this exciting new technology develops in private markets.