Related Questions on Metaculus:
- When will a fusion reactor reach ignition?
- When will a private fusion company first report a yearly profit?
- When will nuclear fusion provide >0.1% of the world's primary energy?
In 2001, Nuclear Fission power plants generated a record 6.6% of the world's primary energy, though total production has somewhat declined since then as the world's total energy demand has increased (as of 2019). Nuclear Fusion is an entirely different physical reaction which has been actively investigated since the 1940s. Fusion power has several potential advantages over Fission power: less radioactive hazard, reduced radioactive waste products, and cheaper fuel. However, all reactor designs tested as of 2021 require more energy to operate than the amount of energy they produce.
Helion CEO David Kirtley said to Forbes in January 2022: "In 10 years we will have commercial electricity for sale, for sure." In the same article, Forbes quotes Commonwealth Fusion Systems CEO Bob Mumgaard, who predicts to produce "a working reactor in 6 years". In November 2021, Helion raised $500 million in funding, with commitments for another $1.7 billion linked to certain performance milestones. According to Bloomberg, Helion set a goal to achieve net electricity from fusion in 2024.
In October 2021, The US Energy Information Agency projected the world's total primary energy consumption to grow from 601.5 quadrillion BTUs in 2020 to 886.3 quadrillion BTUs in 2050. Most of that growth is expected in non-OECD asian countries. Renewable energy is expected to grow from 14.7% of the world's energy in 2020 to 26.5% in 2050, with nuclear fission projected to remain at 4% on the same period.