Can You Invest in Nuclear Fusion?

A reliable estimate is that eventually nuclear fusion technology could be a $40 trillion business. So, can you invest in nuclear fusion and how? When nuclear fusion power plants become a reality, they will not produce any greenhouse gasses or radioactive waste, unlike fossil fuel and nuclear fission-based plants operating today. This makes the nuclear fusion idea popular with the green energy crowd. However, the vast majority of companies working in this area are private. They are not listed on any stock market and only accredited investors can get in.

What Is Nuclear Fusion?

Fusion is what powers the stars. Under immense heat and pressure the nuclei of atoms like hydrogen are forced together to create larger atoms like helium. During this nuclear fusion process, huge amounts of energy are produced. Nuclear bombs were created in the 1950s. Scientists have been trying for decades to produce controlled fusion reactions in order to generate electrical power. Only in the last few years has anyone been successful in a research setting in generating any power with this approach. It was not until 2022 that scientists at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, CA created a fusion reaction that generated more power than what used to start the process. This is considered to be the critical breakthrough needed on the way to making nuclear fusion power generation commercially feasible.

Nuclear Fusion Investment Possibilities

There are no businesses currently generating electric power from nuclear fusion. The best estimates are that we are at least ten years away from a commercially viable controlled nuclear fusion process. Meanwhile lots of money (billions) are being invested in this sector. Companies with exposure to this new industry will include Hitachi, General Electric, Toshiba, and Rolls-Royce. Private companies include Commonwealth Fusion Systems, TAE Technologies, General Fusion (Canada), Tokamak Energy (UK), and Helion Energy. Investors in these startups are typically the likes of Bill Gates and Google.

To invest in any of these companies, one needs to be an accredited investor with more than $200,000 yearly income and a million in assets, excluding property. Then it may be possible, through secondary market operators like Forge or Equity Zen, to invest in $100,000 increments in startups like those in the nuclear fusion niche.

The company receiving the most funding recently is TAE Technologies. Their goal is to have a prototype nuclear fusion reactor in operation by 2030.

Which Nuclear Fusion Process Will Win the Day?

If you want to pick the winner in the race to produce a commercially profitable nuclear fusion power plant you have two issues to consider. Which process will work the best and which company will be most successful in developing the necessary technology. According to the US Fusion Energy, there are four ways to generate the necessary heat and pressure to start and maintain a nuclear fusion reaction. These involve magnets, lasers, mechanical approaches like pistons or particle accelerators, and gravity. Gravity is how it works in stars. The other approaches are what are being tried here on earth.

Tokamaks are contraptions meant to confine a nuclear fusion reaction in a small space are generally considered to be the best bet to make commercial nuclear fusion a reality. The vast majority of investors do not have the necessary technical background to fully understand the concepts involved in nuclear fusion. Even the experts do not yet know the details of how a functioning system will work. That means an investor would need to spread their investments across a wide range of companies, wait until it becomes clear who will win the race, or invest in the picks and shovels of this race for gold. This brings us back to General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Hitachi, Siemens, Toshiba and other industrial heavy weights who are likely to provide the materials and systems to flush out a functioning network of nuclear fusion reactors across the globe.

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