In a groundbreaking move set to reshape the future of clean energy, the United States will present a comprehensive strategy for advancing commercial nuclear fusion power at the upcoming COP28 event in Dubai on December 5. John Kerry, the U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change, announced that fusion energy has transcended the realm of science experiments and is becoming a tangible climate solution. Kerry expressed his enthusiasm during a visit to the corporate headquarters of Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a spin-out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a key player in the nuclear fusion landscape. CFS is currently constructing a demonstrator named SPARC, which, if successful, could mark a historic achievement by demonstrating “scientific energy gain,” overcoming a significant hurdle in nuclear fusion. Kerry’s announcement aligns with the broader context of the US to introduce the global nuclear fusion plan at COP 28, underlining the nation’s commitment to advancing clean energy solutions on a global scale.
SPARC is envisioned as a precursor to ARC, CFS’s ambitious project set to become the world’s first commercial fusion power plant, feeding electricity into the grid. With an operational timeline set for the early 2030s, ARC promises to revolutionise the energy landscape. This significant stride in fusion energy aligns with broader global initiatives, such as the “US to introduce global nuclear fusion plan at COP 28,” highlighting the collaborative efforts to shape the future of clean and sustainable energy.
Bob Mumgaard, CEO of CFS, stated, “With SPARC, CFS has the surest path to truly realize fusion energy on a timescale that will impact climate change. Through a coordinated global effort with leaders, the best resources of the public and private sectors can be leveraged and scaled. We are positioned to innovate and deploy real solutions.”
While CFS races towards fusion breakthroughs, competitor Helion Energy, based in California, is also in the fray with the tagline ‘First to Fusion.’ In a notable move earlier this year, Helion Energy secured a deal with Microsoft to supply the software giant with electricity generated from nuclear fusion within the next five years, indicating potential commercial viability by 2028.
Regardless of which company crosses the finish line first, unlocking the nuclear fusion code promises a reliable, safe, and emission-free power source that avoids the pitfalls associated with nuclear fission, such as meltdown or radiation threats.
The United States has been actively fostering breakthroughs in this field, evidenced by the funding awarded to eight companies, including CFS, for developing designs for a technically and commercially viable fusion pilot plant within the next five to 10 years. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm emphasized the potential of fusion, stating that it offers the ability to harness “the power of the sun right here on Earth” and reiterated the commitment to take fusion energy “past the lab and toward the grid.” The COP28 event in Dubai is poised to be a pivotal moment in the global pursuit of clean and limitless energy solutions.