The United States Department of Energy and the United Kingdom’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) have partnered to accelerate the development and eventual commercialization of nuclear fusion energy.
Fusion energy uses the same reaction that occurs in the Sun and other stars, offering an abundance of clean energy without producing radioactive waste. To represent its effectiveness, the DOE said that a pickup truck filled with fusion fuel has the same amount of energy as 10 million barrels of oil.
Both the U.S. and the U.K. have established plans to forward the technology, and the partnership will work to jointly advance both strategies. Specifically, the collaboration plans to address technical challenges associated with delivering fusion energy on the commercial level and will share access to new national facilities needed to research and develop the new technology.
To further accelerate commercialization, they also plan to facilitate international regulatory frameworks and standards and support resilient supply chains. Once fusion plants become commercially deployable, the partnership aims to collaborate with communities and develop a workforce to see through project development and implementation.
Part of the agreement includes a committee that will meet for the first time in 2024 and will include national labs, academia, and industry leaders.
Fusion Energy’s Turning Point Towards a Clean Energy Future
Fusion science development has been underway for about 70 years, and the technology has reached a level where it may reportedly be used to completely transform the worldwide energy mix. According to the DOE, the technology also shows promise in the private sector, and companies are working on proof-of-concept machines and pilot projects to bring fusion energy to the market.
The technology is especially attractive to industries that are considered hard to decarbonize, such as iron, steel, and other sectors requiring industrial heat. Recently, Helion and Nucor announced an agreement to develop a 500-megawatt fusion power plant at Nucor’s steel manufacturing facility, and the project is set to be operational by 2030.
Some sources are skeptical of nuclear fusion’s ability to meet emissions targets, even by 2050, but consider it a clean energy source that may be used in the long term. Nonetheless, many experts agree that now is the time to scale up development of the clean energy source.
Both the U.S. and the U.K. aim to deploy commercial fusion power plants in the 2030s and hope the partnership will help achieve this.