The UK company AWE and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have now joined with Nif to help make laser fusion a viable commercial energy source.
Part of the problem has been that the technical ability to reach "breakeven" — the point at which more energy is produced than is consumed — has always seemed distant. Detractors of the idea have asserted that "fusion energy is 50 years away, no matter what year you ask", said David Willetts, the UK's science minister. "I think that what's going on both in the UK and in the US shows that we are now making significant progress on this technology," he said. "It can't any longer be dismissed as something on the far distant horizon."