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IAEA Opens Fusion Energy Discussion at COP28 as Momentum Keeps Growing


Fusion and Climate, The Conversation Continues, a fusion energy event at COP28 organised by the ITER, moderated by Laban Coblentz, ITER’s Head of Communication, with Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director-General and Christofer Mowry, CEO of US private fusion company Type One Energy. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Fusion is developing fast and gaining momentum as a climate solution, the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said at a COP28 event on 1 December 2023 in Dubai, which highlighted the critical turning point reached by fusion energy and the growing consensus that international partnerships in fusion are the way forward.

This increased interest in fusion has been attributed to a multitude of factors, including the growing concern over the impact of climate change and security of energy supply, recent scientific and technology breakthroughs in fusion energy R&D, a significant increase of fusion activities and investments in the private sector, and the path paved by ITER in designing, fabricating, delivering, and assembling components.

The event ­­­– with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, Christofer Mowry, CEO of US private fusion company Type One Energy and Chair of the Fusion Industry Association Board and Laban Coblentz, ITER Head of Communication – highlighted fusion energy’s increasing technical readiness and strong market interest and the need for increased global collaborations among different stakeholders including governments, private industry, international organizations, NGOs, and investors through the IAEA's announced World Fusion Energy Group (WFEG).

“This new initiative aims to enhance fusion energy collaboration and drive the discussion on fusion energy development forward, thereby bringing together public and private sectors, industry, academia and civil society in a holistic and collaborative setting to accelerate the fusion energy journey from the experimental stage towards demonstration and ultimately commercialization of fusion energy”, said IAEA Director General Grossi. The inaugural meeting of the WFEG will take place in 2024.

Until quite recently, the fusion private sector was relatively small, with a dearth of available investments for private companies in the field. However, in recent years, the private fusion landscape has seen a drastic increase in both companies and investments. The IAEA World Fusion Outlook and Fusion Industry Association report that private fusion entities continue to grow in number (43 to date), and total private investment in the fusion sector has surpassed US $6 billion.

The companies involved vary in technology, strategies, and levels of funding, but all move the global fusion community a step closer towards a shared goal: the development of fusion as a viable energy source. Governments are stepping up their efforts to engage with private industries to accelerate the path from research to the commercialization of fusion energy and this is leading to significant developments in the field which will support the clean energy transition.  

“The IAEA has a very important role to play in bringing fusion energy to the world, by providing a robust platform which convenes key stakeholders in this endeavour,” said Christofer Mowry. “The fusion community needs the experience and capability which the IAEA provides as a strong global convener in critical areas like regulation, complementing other initiatives announced here at COP28”, Mowry said.

Fusion initiatives launched at COP28

COP28 was a platform for the announcements of key initiatives to accelerate the development of fusion energy.

On Saturday 2 December, the launch of a Fusion Energy Task Force was announced by the Sustainable Markets Initiative, aiming to accelerate the commercialization of fusion energy by facilitating broader market participation from both private and public sectors and industry.

On Tuesday 5 December the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced a call to actions for engagement on fusion energy underlining five overarching goals of international partnerships: R&D, supply chains and market strategies, regulatory framework, workforce development and public education, all of which align with the WFEG announced by the IAEA.

Starting from 2024, the WFEG will bring together public and private sectors, industry, academia and civil society to establish a collaborative framework with a view to accelerate research, development, demonstration and deployment of safe and sustainable fusion energy to the market.

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