Prediction: The Private Sector Will Engineer a Fusion Breakthrough in 2016 Matthew Heimer DECEMBER 8, 2015

Billionaire investors are speeding up the pace of energy innovation.

Tri-Alpha Energy in Irvine, Calif., has reportedly raised $140 million.
Photo: Courtesy of Tri-Alpha Energy

The staff of Fortune recently assembled its predictions for 2016. Here’s one of our forecasts.

Nuclear fusion has long tantalized humanity as a potential energy panacea—a fuel source that could prove to be cheap, inexhaustible, and clean. Large-scale government efforts to sustain and commercialize fusion have shown relatively little progress, but some entrepreneurs are reporting better results on smaller projects. With billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen and Peter Thiel now backing small-scale private-sector projects, expect a major step toward commercially viable fusion in 2016.

More good news: If you’re reading this, it means none of the researchers have inadvertently melted down the planet. (For more on the burgeoning field of fusion research, see this recent Fortune piece.)

This article is part of the 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball, a package of 33 predictions about business, politics and the economy by the writers and editors of Fortune. To see the entire package, click here.