If you’re looking to harness the process that powers the sun and stars to generate electricity, you’ll pay dearly by the time the first nuclear fusion plants are online. The price tag is estimated to be approximately $7 billion for the supply chain, according to a Fusion Industry Association (FIA) survey.
According to the survey, private companies and government labs spent $500 million on their supply chains in 2022. That spending, however, will reach $7 billion by the time fusion companies develop their first power plant and potentially trillions of dollars in a mature fusion industry, estimated to be sometime between 2035 and 2050.
Where’s it all going? High-grade steel, concrete, and superconducting wire to build plants to heat fuels to more than 100 million Celsius in special chambers. Funds will also go to super magnets, lasers, and power supplies.
According to Andrew Holland, the head of FIA, there’s not much concern regarding geopolitical supply risk in the supply chain. No critical parts or materials face global supply shortfalls and come only from unstable countries. He identifies the biggest challenge is scale.
Holland says there’s a global lack of tritium, a fuel needed to fire fusion plants, but that’s also not a concern as companies plan to breed tritium in the fusion plants with the use of lithium. A fusion plant would only need the amount of lithium found in approximately four electric vehicles,