In 2024, fusion technology will finally move from basic research to commercial application. The reason for this is the construction and completion of the first commercial merger demonstrators. These advanced facilities are smaller than fusion power plants. For example, a laser-based fusion model might use five to ten lasers, while a commercial power plant could use several hundred. However, they have a crucial role to play, which is to prove that nuclear fusion technology works on a small scale, paving the way for the construction of larger fusion power plants. And in 2024, they will do just that, starting to build devices that will finally achieve the elusive goal of energy gain — in other words, producing more energy than the amount needed to start the fusion process. Achieving this milestone is a crucial step in addressing the sharply increasing global demand for energy, as fusion energy has the potential to provide an abundant, carbon-free energy source.

In 2022, researchers at National Ignition Facility (NIF) In California, he became the first to experimentally prove that a fusion process could actually produce a net increase in energy. This experiment used high-powered lasers to deposit energy into a small fuel target — a millimeter-sized capsule containing frozen deuterium and tritium — creating the conditions necessary for fusion to occur. The laser beams delivered 2.05 megajoules of energy to the target, producing a fusion energy of 3.1 megajoules. This was a scientific experiment, and unlike nuclear fusion models, the NIF was not designed to operate continuously like a power plant. However, as a result of this scientific breakthrough, nuclear fusion has attracted a great deal of research, policy, and investor interest in recent months.

National fusion strategies have been developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, and other countries to promote research and testing of the technology. Currently, the United States and the United Kingdom are leading the race: the US Department of Energy funds fusion research with an annual budget of approx $1.4 billion It encourages private companies to accelerate the marketing process. Likewise, the United Kingdom is strengthening public-private partnerships by creating a fusion group with universities and companies pooling their expertise. Leading investors recognize the fusion technology opportunity, with more than $5 billion in private capital flowing into fusion companies in the past two years.

These initiatives are beginning to bear fruit: several fusion companies around the world, including Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Helion Energy, and General Fusion, have announced plans to begin building facilities in 2024 to demonstrate their technological approach. According to the latest report issued by Fusion Industry AssociationMore than half of fusion companies believe fusion power will be delivered to the public power grid during the 2030s. In May 2023, Microsoft signed a power purchase agreement with Helion Energy, securing a supply of fusion-generated electricity by 2028. In August 2023, Marvel Fusion (the fusion energy company it co-founded) announced a $150 million partnership with Colorado State University . , the largest public-private partnership to date, aims to build the only laser facility designed for commercial laser-based fusion technology and the world’s most powerful short-pulse laser system. With these developments and commitments, 2024 is set to show that fusion is no longer a distant dream, but rather an achievable future for clean and sustainable energy.

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