In this study Trinomics, in cooperation with technical experts in the fusion field, mapped both public and private fusion initiatives globally; made a high-level assessment of the challenges and opportunities for the main fusion approaches and initiatives;  analyzed the targeted and likely timescales of each approach towards fusion energy; assessed public-private cooperation, funding, staffing, regulation and other important issues for fusion development; and, provided a scenario analysis of four potential scenarios of fusion energy development. The work was carried out through desk research, interviews with key staff and public and private fusion initiatives, through an online survey in cooperation with the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) and expert validation workshops.

The work identified more than 20 private initiatives, and a core of around 10 of the most serious initiatives which have the combination of size, funding, achievements and plans, each of which target a next fusion device within the next 5 years, and most of which target a first pilot fusion plant during the 2030’s. The work identified key challenges in technology (tritium breeding, neutron resilient materials, plasma science), regulation, funding, staffing and life-cycle issues for a fusion power plant. The scenarios analysed the potential development of private initiatives and how these may develop, complement or compete with public fusion research, particularly the EUROfusion baseline scenario of ITER and DEMO. The scenarios highlighted that whilst many claims of private initiatives are likely to be overambitious, there remains a reasonable chance that one of the approaches could succeed, and that this may happen in a timeframe to lead to a re-examination of public fusion spending priorities.