First commercial fusion power plant

The first commercial fusion-power plant could come online between 2035 to 2040, about ten years after net-energy gain is demonstrated. Once this milestone is achieved, and the economics are shown to pencil out, the real engineering work begins.

We expect that completing the engineering design of a fusion power plant, getting financing, selecting a site, getting regulatory approval, scaling manufacturing for key components, and the actual construction of a first-of-a-kind fusion plant could be completed over ten year’s time. Additional engineering challenges that need to be solved include:

      1. Design of a ‘blanket’ to convert the neutrons generated by fusion into energy
      2. Determining how tritium (a key component of fusion fuel) will be recovered from the reactor
      3. Demonstrating that the materials used in the fusion reactor will survive long-term in a power environment

People are already working on these problems, but they are certainly non-trivial!

Interior of Alcator C-Mod at MIT showing the molybdenum tiles used as the “first wall” material. Identifying robust materials for the “first wall” is a critical challenge to bridge from experiment to power plant. Image By Mike Garrett - Own work, CC BY 3.0.