The Future. A crop of billionaires wants to harness the power of the sun, investing sizable fortunes into the realization that consistent energy from nuclear fusion is only years away. It’s a big, risky bet, but considering that fusion produces almost limitless clean energy with minimal radioactivity, it could be the breakthrough that lets the world ditch fossil fuels once and for all.
According to the Fusion Industry Association, the industry has attracted over $5 billion in private funding — 75% of that since 2021.
- OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has poured $375 million into Helion Energy. Peter Thiel is also an investor.
- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has invested in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, an MIT spinout that hopes to build compact power plants.
- Jeff Bezos has written checks for General Fusion, a Canadian startup.
What has kicked off all the activity? In August 2021, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory came close to achieving a “net gain” reaction, meaning that more power is created than lost when creating nuclear fusion. Sensing that it was only a matter of time until they succeeded, investors pounced.
The Lawrence Livermore scientists pulled it off in December of that year. Inevitable indeed.