- microsoft agreed to buy electricity From a fusion power plant under development by Helion Energy.
- Helion said the plant could be operational by 2028, sooner than scientists thought fusion was feasible.
- Fusion energy does not cause the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel the climate crisis.
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The timeline for getting fusion energy into the grid may be closer than many think.
Microsoft on Wednesday agreed to purchase 50 megawatts Power from the fusion power plant Helion Energy is developing will be enough to power approximately 40,000 homes. The start-up’s factory, he expects, will be operational by 2028.
Nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun and stars, is considered the holy grail of energy production because it can provide an almost limitless source of electricity without causing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel the climate crisis. It is
Scientists have been trying to harness fusion energy for years, but some predict it won’t be a viable power source for decades. In December, researchers made a breakthrough, reporting that federal scientists in California had achieved the first net energy gain, a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it needed to produce. bottom. But so far, the lab has not replicated the results. reported by Bloomberg.
Helion founder and CEO David Kirtley told Insider he’s confident in the company’s 2028 goals for several reasons. All six of Helion’s fusion prototypes set records for energy output and operating temperature. More than 100 million degrees Celsius these days — Ideal threshold for power plants. Cartley said Unit 7, due for completion this year, will be the first prototype to convert fusion energy into electricity.
“Helion is focused on doing fusion in a way that approaches electricity, rather than just energy in the general sense,” he said.
“My example is regenerative braking in electric vehicles,” he added. “When you hit the accelerator, energy is taken from the battery and sent to the motor. When you hit the brakes, that energy goes back to the battery. That’s what we do with fusion. and pour it into the energy’ fusion reaction, extracting it directly. ”
Hellion’s A novel approach to fusion Deuterium and helium 3 gases are injected into a cylindrical machine and the gases are heated to form charged plasmas on both sides of the machine. These plasmas are accelerated and compressed by electromagnetic fields until they collide and react.
Beyond technology, Cartley said the regulatory environment was more solid as of April.of Released by the Nuclear Regulation Authority Existing frameworks will be used to monitor the safety of fusion reactors and power plants. It chose not to impose the stricter rules that apply to nuclear reactors. Unlike nuclear fission, fusion does not involve concerns about radioactive waste or weapons proliferation.
“This should allow fusion systems to be built faster, safer and less expensive to operate,” Cartley said.
Still, building the first power plant of its kind in less than five years is a big challenge.
That’s why Microsoft’s deal with carrier Constellation was so important, Cartley said. Constellation has experience building power plants quickly, and Microsoft is one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy. The tech giant aims to cover 100% of his electricity consumption with zero-carbon purchases by 2030.
Cartley said Helion would face financial penalties if it didn’t supply Microsoft with 50 MW of power from its fusion power plant. He did not disclose details of the deal.
Helion had previously predicted that it would begin construction of a commercial fusion power plant by 2022, provided sufficient funding was available. A spokesperson told an insider that the goal was postponed due to delays in fundraising.
Since then, Helion has secured what it needs, including a $500 million funding round last year. Led by Sam Altman CEO of OpenAI and Helion’s largest investor.