A survey conducted with 26 private fusion companies has concluded the fusion energy supply chain, which was worth over $500 million in 2022, is set to increase to over $7 billion by the time the first power plants are built.
This was one of the findings from the latest report from the Fusion Industry Association (FIA), The Fusion Industry Supply Chain: Opportunities and Challenges, which projects a huge growth in demand for fusion suppliers over the coming years.
The report predicts the fusion industry will be worth trillions once it reaches maturity.
“The projected growth of the fusion industry creates a huge business opportunity for current and new suppliers,” says Andrew Holland, CEO of the FIA.
According to FIA, as the fusion sector has developed rapidly in recent years, the sector has become reliant on a range of suppliers, with requirements including specialized precision manufactured components, such as high-powered magnets and laser components, heat management technologies, advanced materials, power electronics and semiconductors, and fusion fuel.
However, there are signs that some suppliers may not be ready to scale ahead of demand, according to the report. Over half of the fusion companies (58%) say suppliers need to invest now to meet scaling ambitions, yet 70% said their suppliers see building the capacity to meet future demand as too risky without committed orders.
Whilst many outside the industry have expressed concerns about the impact of geopolitics on critical fusion supplies, the report found limited concern about geopolitical supply risk.
Holland added, “It is clear that more long-term certainty is needed – through a mix of finance, regulation, risk-sharing mechanisms, and more communication – so suppliers are prepared to scale ahead of industry need.
“The fusion supply chain has a unique advantage as it is not reliant on rare materials only found in unstable countries, but on high quality manufacturing and specialist components that come from open economies. With appropriate private and public investment, fusion energy will one day provide a sustainable, reliable, and abundant form of clean energy to communities around the world.”
The report makes several recommendations to address supplier reluctance:
- Increase investment, both public and private, into fusion to give confidence about the necessity of supplier scale.
- Experiment with risk-sharing financing to enable suppliers to invest in new capacity – such as through fusion investors making investments in key suppliers.
- Create online networks and an annual supplier event, to help communication and awareness between fusion companies and suppliers.
- Deploy standardisation and regulation to bring more certainty to the supply chain and confidence to make long-term investments.
Originally published by Power Engineering International.
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