Microsoft’s Fusion Reaction
By: James Flippin · May 17, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes
In a recent deal, Microsoft (MSFT) committed to a sustainable energy future by agreeing to buy power from a source that has yet to be fully developed — a nuclear fusion generator.
This isn’t your everyday corporate energy deal. The technology behind nuclear fusion is still in its developmental stages. Microsoft’s move puts faith in an unproven but potentially game-changing technology.
Nuclear fusion has been dubbed the “Holy Grail” of energy for its potential to generate limitless clean power. But for much of the past century, it’s been more of a Holy Goose Chase. Microsoft’s new partner hopes to change that.
The torchbearer of this high-stakes venture is Helion Energy, a company with an ambitious plan to deliver the first-ever commercial fusion generator to Microsoft by 2028.
Helion’s approach is as unprecedented as Microsoft’s investment. The company is building a 40-foot device called a plasma accelerator designed to ignite nuclear fusion at temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius. Eventually, the machine is expected to not only trigger the fusion reaction but also recapture the electricity used, effectively recharging itself.
In its power purchase agreement with Microsoft, Helion Energy also revealed ambitious plans to connect its fusion generator to Washington’s power grid.
A Brighter Tomorrow?
The promise of nuclear fusion is one of abundant and clean energy for years to come. Microsoft appears to believe Helion’s plan to realize nuclear power’s potential within the next five years is substantive. But others consider it hopeless optimism. Consensus estimates give viable fusion power a timeline of decades, not years.
Meanwhile, Helion Energy’s goal is not merely to achieve nuclear fusion but to remain commercially viable. It aims to bring the cost of this novel energy source down to just one cent per kilowatt-hour, a price point comparable to current energy sources.
Whether that’s realistic or not remains up for debate. But one thing is certain: Helion Energy’s agreement with a megacorporation like Microsoft marks a major milestone for nuclear fusion. And should its lofty ambitions be realized, the face of the global energy landscape could be transformed entirely, generating enough clean energy to power a brighter future for all.
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