Microsoft + Nuclear Fusion – Real Deal?2 min read
According to the news, Microsoft has recently signed a power purchase agreement with a nuclear fusion startup called Helion Energy. This is the first deal of its kind for Microsoft and for the nuclear fusion industry. Helion Energy aims to bring its first fusion plant online by 2028 and generate at least 50 megawatts of energy.
Microsoft will buy some of that power to support its goal of being carbon negative by 2030. Helion Energy is building its seventh working prototype and expects to demonstrate electricity generation by 2024. Nuclear fusion is a potentially limitless source of clean energy that mimics the process that powers the stars in space.
Quick facts about the Microsoft to buy nuclear fusion
Microsoft and the nuclear fusion are related in the following ways:
- The company has signed a power purchase agreement with Helion Energy, a nuclear fusion company, to buy electricity produced from fusion by 2028.
- Microsoft is the first company to commit to buying fusion-powered electricity for commercial use, as part of its goal to be carbon negative by 2030.
- Microsoft is also investing in Helion Energy, which has raised more than $570 million in private capital and is backed by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.
- Helion Energy is developing a fusion technology that uses a mix of laser and magnet technologies to achieve fusion, and relies on Helium 3, a rare type of helium, as fuel.
- Helion Energy plans to bring its first fusion plant online by 2028, with a target of generating at least 50 megawatts of energy, which will be supplied to some of Microsoft’s facilities in Washington.
Why did Microsoft choose Helion over other fusion companies?
Microsoft chose Helion over other fusion companies because of its innovative technology, its progress in achieving high temperatures and net energy gain, and its backing by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Helion uses a mix of laser and magnet technologies to achieve fusion, and relies on Helium 3, a rare type of helium, as fuel. Helion was the first private company to achieve 100 million degrees Celsius in 2021, and aims to demonstrate electricity generation by 2024. The company has raised more than $570 million in private capital, with Altman providing $375 million in 2021. Microsoft was impressed by Helion’s work and saw it as a way to support its own long-term clean energy goals.
Using Helium 3 as fuel for fusion has some advantages over other fuels such as deuterium and tritium. Some of these advantages are that Helium 3 fusion:
- Is more efficient than deuterium-tritium fusion.
- Does not release neutrons but protons, which can be easily contained and converted into energy.
- Does not produce radioactive waste or greenhouse gases, making it a clean and safe source of energy.
- Does not require tritium, which is radioactive and difficult to handle.