BY GREG TWINNEY, CEO, GENERAL FUSION
Did you read the International Energy Agency’s The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022 ahead of the COP27 summit this week in Egypt?
According to the new report, carbon emissions in the global power sector need to decrease 50% by 2030, with reductions “likely to come from technologies that are not yet fully commercialised” if countries are to meet their net-zero emissions targets.
The inaugural report ambitiously calls for stronger international collaboration, more energy R&D, and a boost in global investment in the power sector to reach US$2 trillion in 2030—an approximate growth of 25% per year—to help meet a projected three-fold increase in global electricity demand by 2050.
Renewables will not fill the energy gap in the transition to net zero. In Europe and North America, current energy supply volatility is delaying or even reversing the decommissioning of coal, gas-firing plants, and nuclear fission plants, which provide stable, baseload capacity.
What is missing in the discussion about the future’s energy mix? Fusion energy is a zero-carbon, reliable and secure resource that can help fill the gap. The growing fusion industry is making rapid progress and fusion energy will be a key part of the clean energy future.
Over the past year, the fusion industry has secured over US$2.8 billion in new private investment, bringing the total to US$4.8 billion to date. There are now more than 30 private companies pursuing commercial fusion for a variety of markets, including power generation, and marine and space transportation.
As a new McKinsey article outlines, “in the last five years, fusion energy has reached a turning point in its development” with rapid technological progress and investor interest allowing it to be considered to “play a major role in meeting 2050 decarbonization targets” and provide on-demand power to grids.
The insightful article emphasizes that fusion energy could help provide critical flexibility to net-zero grids and concludes: “For leaders in business, financial management, and government, this is the time to start preparing for the development of fusion energy.”
At General Fusion, our unique, practical technology positions us as a leader in this expanding energy market segment. With our 20 years of experience, we have tested and proven our core technologies. Now, we are preparing to integrate them in our Fusion Demonstration Program at the UK Atomic Energy Agency’s (UKAEA) Culham Campus in England. Site preparations are underway for constructing our 110,000-square-foot (10,300 m2) facility, and operations will start by the mid-2020s.
Our fusion demonstration will be a game changer by achieving fusion conditions at power-plant scale and demonstrating our pioneering technology in a relevant operational environment. In parallel, we are advancing our commercialization strategy, and are on track to build and connect our first commercial power plant to the grid in the early 2030s.
Besides our unique IP, which includes over 150 patents approved or pending that solve key commercialization challenges, we are the only fusion company to receive substantial funding from the governments of Canada, the UK and the US.
Our strategic partnership ring is growing fast, too. We now have collaborative projects underway with the UKAEA, US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory. In addition, we recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to advance commercial fusion energy in Canada.
It’s an exciting time to lead General Fusion’s growth as the market for fusion energy heats up. At the invitation of the Government of Canada, we are attending COP27 this week and spreading the word to policymakers, journalists and government leaders–the time for commercial fusion energy is now.
- IEA, The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022, Sept. 2022
- IEA, Net Zero by 2050, May 2021
- McKinsey & Co., Can fusion decarbonize the power system? 2022
- McKinsey & Co., Global Energy Perspective 2022, April 2022
- Fusion Industry Association, The Global Fusion Industry in 2022, Sept. 2022