Investment continues to flow into fusion companies, of which there are now at least 35, with 18 having received a total of $1.8bn in private sector funding, according to the study, which is said to be the first of its kind in the sector.
Investment in the nuclear fusion sector marks an acceleration of a 60-year-long bid to generate clean, cheap energy by fusing atoms.
Of the 23 companies surveyed, more than half were founded in the last five years, but no group has yet been able to effectively fuse atoms while producing more energy than they use in the process.
Nevertheless, some say the nuclear energy breakthrough — net positive energy — is more attainable today than ever before.
“We are at this cusp of the commercialisation point where we are taking all of the research that’s been done for 60 years, into plasma physics, fusion energy designs, and we are now applying it to engineering, ” Andrew Holland, chief executive of the Fusion Industry Association told the Financial Times.
“It is the private sector that commercialises a new technology, whether it’s aeroplanes 120 years ago, or nuclear fission in the 50s, 60s and 70s,” he added.
According to the FT, four companies, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), California’s TAE Technologies, Oxford-based Tokamak Energy and Canada’s General Fusion, which is backed by Jeff Bezos, account for 85% of private sector funding in the space.
Last month, CFS successfully found that a high-temperature superconductor generated a much stronger magnetic field, which it believes will allow for a more compact fusion power plant that will be quicker and cheaper to build.
Most of the surveyed companies, which includes groups from China, India and Australia, employ different approaches to fusion.
Some 71% said they believed fusion power would be connected to the grid in the 2030s.
In 2020, over $300m was poured into private fusion companies, according to a Bloomberg report.