The value of fusion energy to a decarbonized United States electric grid

Jacob A. Schwartz, Wilson Ricks, Egemen Kolemen, Jesse D. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Fusion could be a part of future decarbonized electricity systems, but it will need to compete with other technologies. In particular, pulsed tokamak plants have a unique operational mode, and evaluating which characteristics make them economically competitive can help select between design pathways. Using a capacity expansion and operations model, we determined cost thresholds for pulsed tokamaks to reach a range of penetration levels in a future decarbonized US Eastern Interconnection. The required capital cost to reach a fusion capacity of 100 GW varied from $2,700 to $7,500 kW−1, and the equilibrium penetration increases rapidly with decreasing cost. The value per unit power capacity depends on the variable operational cost and on the cost of its competition, particularly fission, much more than on the pulse cycle parameters. These findings can therefore provide initial cost targets for fusion more generally in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-699
Number of pages25
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 19 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Energy


  • capacity expansion
  • macro-energy systems
  • nuclear fusion
  • technology assessment
  • tokamaks


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