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Fusion energy sparked on island

Startup is positioned to lead the way in clean technology

General Fusion, a startup initiated in Snug Cove, has just received $12.7 million from Sustainable Technology Development Canada following a recent visit from the Prime Minister. Though the company has reached international acclaim, few on Bowen Island know its history.

In 2002, in what had previously been the Bowen Island gas station, a 40-year-old man was acting out on what he calls “a mid-life crisis.” In that dilapidated wood building across from the Snug Cove General Store, Dr. Michel Laberge was quietly attempting something big, – something that could become a global game changer with long-term implications. While it wasn’t the usual response to a mid-life crisis, Laberge, a plasma physicist, is any thing but an ordinary kind of guy. At 40, he began deliberating his life choices. “I was exposed to laser fusion when I was working on my PhD, and I wanted to do some high tech stuff. I liked space stuff. Space is very fun, but it’s not required for the planet,“ he explains. It was a time in his life to go big, or go home.

Laberge went big, and decided it was time to try to solve global warming. His strategy would be to generate fusion energy simply and inexpensively. This would be his new mission in life. He turned to friends and the government for seed money, and began charting his course.

Big labs were already generating some fusion energy, but it was still taking more energy to get the reaction going than the energy produced. Laberge wanted to try a different approach that would be cheaper, simpler, and efficient. He began to work on his idea at the Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation and Research.  “I hacked on this thing, but after a year, the research center shut down,” and Laberge moved his research to Snug Cove. “It was great, I could ride my bike home for lunch,” he says.

Fusion energy sparked on island (Bowen Island Undercurrent)