A guest blog from Romi Mahajan, CEO ExoFusion

The demand for energy is insatiable as the population grows and consumption continues unabated. Legitimate stresses over anthropogenic global warming, diminishing resources, and energy inequality have governments, social bodies, and scientists searching for solutions and innovating relentlessly to secure a sustainable future. While some damage has already been done, the future is at stake.

Can we usher in a “Fusion Future?”

Nuclear Fusion is the grail of energy. Clean, abundant energy, harnessing the motive force of the stars, is the bogey. While fusion has been understood for eight decades, the rapid pace of change- powered by governments, labs, private fusion companies, and collaborations between all parties—has made the target visible for the first time.

There are still scientific, technical, and capital-based hurdles to Commercially Viable Fusion (CVF) at scale, but the prognosis is good, in fact great.

Keeping our eyes on the ball is necessary now, more than ever. When a critical mass of people, capital, and technology forms, good things happen, but so do bad things. Egos, inertia, competitive siloing, cliques, and rigid orthodoxies start to be “the story.” Public Relations becomes the form of communication versus, say, scientist-scientist communication and collaboration. The “Me first” attitude rears its head.

Some of these tendencies are natural. The animal spirits can animate any field, but they can also retard any field. The Fusion Future depends on us as an industry and community curbing our worst instincts and working openly towards the outcomes we all desire.

This doesn’t mean we have to do away with competition, IP, or closed-garden innovation. What it means is we must do so in a manner that builds the entire ecosystem and doesn’t create a single point of monopoly or failure. The daisy chain required to get to CVF is delicate and we must understand that and tiptoe around it so as not to hurt the enterprise as a whole. Relatedly, in a game of limited capital, it is important that money is divided across bets and not concentrated too deeply. Similarly, fusion “machine” companies must get enough funding but not to the exclusion of supply-chain or enabling-technology plays.

The Fusion Future is in sight. It is our choice whether we optimize and accelerate the path to CVF or if we let the worst tendencies of pure capitalism take over. A balance is needed and if we strike it right, we’ll be able to usher in truly a new world.