“The Boldest Thing I’ve Ever Heard”12. May 2023
“The Boldest Thing I’ve Ever Heard”
San Francisco, 5/11/2023
Microsoft has signed the first commercial contract for fusion power with Helion Energy. Scientists have long tried to create unlimited and sustainable energy using nuclear fusion, the same process that powers the sun, but have not succeeded.
Helion, a private US nuclear fusion company, said it plans to start generating electricity in 2028 from the world’s first commercial fusion generator.
After a one-year ramp-up phase, the company aims to generate at least 50 megawatts of electricity, enough to power around 50,000 homes per day.
Microsoft has signed a power purchase agreement with Helion to purchase electricity in 2028. The binding agreement, which provides for financial penalties if a fusion system is not built, requires Helion to connect the fusion generator to a power grid in Washington.
Helion, backed by OpenAI founder Sam Altman, also plans to demonstrate a prototype next year.
Despite significant doubts about the deal, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company would not have agreed had it not had hopes of accelerating technological advances.
Robert Rosner, a University of Chicago theoretical physicist, called the deal the “boldest thing I’ve ever heard,” though he didn’t completely rule out the possibility of a merger by 2028.
In December, US scientists achieved a net energy gain in nuclear fusion equivalent to about 1.5 pounds of TNT, or enough to boil 2.5 gallons of water.