2Q 2023

Significant Barriers Remain to Commercializing Nuclear Fusion

Some world regions are struggling to develop clear strategies for achieving substantial CO2 emissions reductions while providing energy supplies sufficient for sustained economic growth. The World Meteorological Organization currently predicts that global temperatures will increase by 3° C to 5° C by the end of the 21st century. This projection suggests that current efforts may not be enough to achieve either a 2.0‑degree global climate target, or the more ambitious 1.5-degree goal.

Nuclear fusion offers an inexhaustible supply of energy and could be a solution. Enormous global effort is going into making the technology a reality, but it is still not yet economically feasible and has not been commercialized. Even if the promising International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project is successful, the technology is not assured of being economically competitive, considering the reactor’s net energy gain and the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). For nuclear fusion to be competitive, it must reach grid parity, which only happens when its LCOE is equal to or below the price of power on the grid.

This Guidehouse Insights Strategy Insight reviews the significance of nuclear fusion in tackling the growing demand for green energy. It explains the differences between nuclear fission and fusion and looks at various technology approaches, recent breakthroughs in the fusion industry, and its persistent lack of traction, despite decades of effort. The study also examines the industry’s financial support from private and public funding, its major challenges, and offers key recommendations for stakeholders.

Pages 15
Tables | Charts | Figures 4
  • What is nuclear fusion and how does it differ from nuclear fission?
  • What are the major technology approaches for attaining nuclear fusion?
  • What are the nuclear fusion industry’s major breakthroughs?
  • Why is nuclear fusion not yet commercially viable, despite decades of effort?
  • Who are the industry’s major private and public funders .
  • What are the key challenges the industry faces.
  • Renewable energy development financing companies
  • Nuclear fusion technology industry
  • Government and regulatory agencies
  • Utilities
  • Investor community




Nuclear Fusion Gains Traction in the Energy Transition

Four Approaches Have Been Developed for Nuclear Fusion Reactions

Magnetic Confinement

Inertial Confinement

Magnetized Target Fusion

Hybrid Fusion

Recent Breakthroughs Came after Decades of Research

Despite Efforts, Nuclear Fusion Is Still Not Yet Commercially Viable

Fusion Energy Must Move Quickly to Aid Net-Zero Goals

Public and Private Funding Vitalized Nuclear Fusion R&D

Public Funding

Despite Its Potential, Fusion Energy Faces Challenges on Multiple Fronts

Overcoming the Technical Challenges Is Key to Nuclear Fusion’s Success

Investors’ Perspectives

Regulatory Concerns Could Be Loosened to Encourage Nuclear Fusion

The Fusion Industry Must Educate the Public about Nuclear Fusion

Regulators Must Consider the Differences between Fission and Fusion Facilities

  • Nuclear Fusion
  • Reactor Energy Gain in Nuclear Fusion
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Fission
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Fusion
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