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Microsoft Agrees to Buy Energy from Nuclear Fusion Plant

Privately held Helion Energy recently announced an agreement to provide Microsoft with electricity from a nuclear fusion power plant the company hopes to have online by 2028.

Constellation will serve as the power marketer and will manage transmission for the project. The fusion plant will be sited at a yet-to-be-determined location in Washington State, the company said.

When it comes online, Helion said its fusion plant would target power generation of 50 megawatts or greater after a one year ramp up period. The planned operational date for this first of its kind facility is significantly sooner than typical projections for deployment of commercial fusion power, Helion said.

Since the 1940s, researchers and engineers have sought come up with a viable nuclear fusion plant as an alternative to the nuclear fission process used in all nuclear power plants worldwide. Unlike fission, nuclear fusion does not produce long-lived radioactive nuclear waste. Only in recent years, however, have scientists been able to maintain a sustained fusion reaction.

And only last year was fusion ignition achieved when scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in which more energy was produced from fusion than the laser energy used to drive the reaction.

Everett, Wash., based Helion has built six working prototypes of its fusion reactor and says it was the first private fusion company to reach 100-million-degree plasma temperatures with its sixth fusion prototype. The company is currently building its seventh prototype, with which it expects to demonstrate the ability to produce electricity in 2024.

Last March, Constellation announced a collaboration with Microsoft on the development of an around the clock energy matching technology that aims to match a customer’s power needs with local carbon dioxide free energy sources, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.