Microsoft signs nuclear fusion power purchase deal with Helion Energy

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Microsoft has gotten into an agreement with Helion Energy, a nuclear fusion generator, and indicated its intentions to start purchasing clean energy from the firm as soon as 2028. The goal behind this move is to get rid of harmful emissions radiating into the environment, as nuclear energy provides a limitless source of clean energy to users.

With this new agreement in place, Helion Energy is expected to generate up to 50 megawatts after a one-year ramp-up period. To put this into perspective, one megawatt can keep the lights running in approximately 1,000 households in the U.S.

According to Helion Energy’s CEO and founder, David Kirtley:

Fifty megawatts is a big first step of commercial-scale fusion, and the revenue feeds right back into us developing more power plants and getting fusion out on the grid both in the United States and internationally as fast as possible.

In order to produce nuclear fusion, two light atoms like hydrogen must be placed together under extremely hot temperatures causing them to fuse and become one heavy atom that produces a lot of energy. To this end, fusion reactions have been cited to suck up more energy than what is actually released.

Helion is set to debut its seventh-generation Polaris next year that’s designed to help with power generation. The machine is designed to make use of pulsed high-power magnet technologies to produce nuclear fusion. Helion has already hit incredible feats before. Back in 2012, it was the first private company able to get to 100 million degrees Celsius.

Most companies in the nuclear fusion business tend to gravitate towards tritium during the production phase, but Helion intends to incorporate Helium 3 into the process instead. Helium 3 is a rare gas that’s often used in quantum computing.

Helion has managed to come up with more than $570 million in private capital, that’s in place to see this venture come to fruition. Sam Altman, OpenAI’s  CEO also made a $375 million investment in this venture back in 2021.

However, the company needs to get its designs as well as construction approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission alongside local permits. Last month, the NRC moved to distinguish fusion regulation from fission a move that’s guaranteed to expedite the approval process

Microsoft’s vice chair and president, Brad Sams further added that this venture aligns with the company’s “long-term clean energy goals” and will play a major role in helping it advance in the market as well as assisting it to establish a new and effective method that will help bring cleaner energy to the grid quicker.

Via The Verge

Featured image via Helion Energy