Why fusion deserves a place at the top table at COP26
What if I told you that there’s an abundant and limitless energy source that a small handful of companies around the world are on the path to commercialising?
What if I told you that this energy source was clean at the point of generation with enormous opportunities for global economies to decarbonise at scale?
What if I added that the UK has all the key elements to make this energy source a reality?
Fusion – the energy that powers the sun and stars – is the answer.
With COP26 taking place over the next two weeks in Glasgow, it is time for global investors, businesses and governments at the Summit to recognise the role that fusion has to play in future energy systems and plan for its global deployment.
An IMechE report published last month, ‘Fusion Energy: A global effort – a UK opportunity’, confirmed fusion’s vast potential as a source of energy for humanity.
With global energy demand set to soar, the report argued that fusion could fill many of the gaps in the future energy system left by the retreat of fossil fuels and would complement renewables. Fusion is well placed to provide valuable heat energy to hard-to-abate industrial sectors, as well as make a significant contribution to the production of clean hydrogen.
Smaller, compact fusion power plants, which Tokamak Energy is developing, driven by technological breakthroughs such as high-temperature superconducting magnets, could translate to a faster commercial route to market.
A developing global fusion supply chain also drives opportunities for innovation in other industries, such as aerospace and healthcare. With over 20 fusion start-ups globally and increasing collaboration between private and public sectors, momentum in the sector is gathering pace.
Investors are already awake to this potential. They have already invested nearly $2bn into private fusion companies according to a recent survey by the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) and the UKAEA (UK Atomic Energy Authority). Four companies, including Tokamak Energy, currently account for 85% of this funding.
Private commercial developers of fusion have increasingly ambitious timescales and aspire to working fusion reactors in the 2030s. The FIA’s survey reflected this bullish outlook with 71% of private fusion developers stating that fusion power in the 2030s is achievable.
At COP26, I would like to see recognition that fusion has a major part to play in helping countries deliver on their Net Zero objectives.
Fusion must no longer be viewed in isolation, but rather, as an important game-changing technology in future Net Zero energy systems.
For this reason, fusion belongs at the top table at COP.
This article was written by Chris Kelsall, CEO of Tokamak Energy.