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Fusion doesn’t need billions of euros – at least that is what venture capitalists claim. Jon Cartwright takes a look. ITER will be big because physics says it must be big: as a reactor grows, you get more output power from a given input power. At least, that is the conventional view. Indeed, smaller and cheaper fusion plants are on the rise, but not in the public sphere.

The founders of Amazon and Microsoft are putting their fortunes into little-known fusion energy companies. Jonathan Frochtzwajg digs into a story that has strange parallels with fiction. General Fusion is just one of a pack of private fusion firms to catch the attention of physicists and investors. Unencumbered by red tape, these venture-backed companies believe that they can find a faster, cheaper way to fusion than government-sponsored projects, and some very influential people agree: besides Bezos, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel are also backing firms at the forefront of fusion development.

Almost 200 clean technology companies from across Canada have written to the federal government, asking for a dramatic increase in government support for the industry, far beyond what was included in last month’s budget. The group, which includes members from clean-tech alliances in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, recommending increased funding. The letter expresses support for the clean-tech spending sprinkled through the federal budget, but asks for specific and focused additions to help the sector compete globally.

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.

Governments like to talk about the importance of diversifying the economy, but when it comes to providing stimulus, the same old sectors usually top the priority list.

The resource, auto and aeronautics industries are where governments typically put most support.

But in British Columbia, an alliance that represents some of the smartest technology companies the province has ever produced is hoping to change all that.

As the race to replace fossil fuels heats up, a few Canadian startups are betting on the nuclear option. "We need a game-changing energy innovation," Simon Irish, chief executive of Oakville, Ont.,-based Terrestrial Energy, said in a recent interview. Renewable power like wind and solar aren't able to meet the world's growing energy demands, Irish says, so people have to rethink nuclear energy. "This is clean energy on a massive scale," he said.

Startups bring a new attitude to the energy quest — will it be enough? The lab where a company called General Fusion is trying to spark an energy revolution looks like a cross between a hardware store and a mad scientist’s lair. Bins full of electrical gadgets are piled high against the walls. Capacitors recycled from a bygone experiment are stacked up like bottles in wine racks. Ten-foot-high contraptions bristle with tangled wires and shiny plumbing.