Type One Energy Plans Fusion Energy Prototype at Retired Coal Plant

Model of Type One Energy's nuclear fusion machine

(Credit: Type One Energy)

by | Feb 22, 2024

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Type One Energy Group has announced plans to build Infinity One, its nuclear fusion stellarator prototype, at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s recently retired Bull Run Fossil Plant, starting in 2025.

Construction of the fusion machine is a part of Project Infinity, which also includes Type One Energy’s plans to build its headquarters in Tennessee. The project was established following an agreement between Type One Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to commercialize fusion energy technologies.

Construction of the project is part of a larger effort to bring zero-emissions fusion energy to Tennessee as Gov. Bill Lee reportedly aims to make the state a national leader for clean energy. Project Infinity is the first investment recipient of the Governor’s Nuclear Energy Fund.

“Type One Energy is committed to making commercial fusion a reality over the next decade,” said Christofer Mowry, CEO of Type One Energy. “Successful deployment of Infinity One in East Tennessee, with our partners TVA and ORNL, is a critical milestone in our FusionDirect commercialization program. It is also a watershed moment toward the commercialization of fusion, linking for the first time leaders in the technology, utility, and national laboratory sectors on an actual deployment project. Project Infinity will create the world’s highest performance stellarator, offering an excellent platform for a potential long-term fusion research facility.”

Commitment to Fusion Accompanied by State’s Fossil Fuel Expansion

Despite the recent commitment to nuclear fusion, the TVA has planned the largest fossil fuel buildout in the United States, representing an eighth of all new planned gas capacity in the country, according to a report from Tennessee’s WPLN News. The utility also said in January 2023 that it would build a new methane gas plant, and the state’s legislature recently passed a law that defined natural gas, a known fossil fuel, as a clean energy source.

TVA’s Bull Run was once a coal-fired power plant and was the largest in the world in terms of steam production when it was first made operational in 1967, and the plant was retired at the end of 2023, as part of the company’s plan to phase out coal by 2035. The site’s establishment as a hub for fusion energy may mark a significant milestone for Tennessee, especially with the state’s continued fossil fuel development. Yet, most experts estimate that large-scale commercialization of fusion energy will not be achieved until around 2050.

According to a report in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Infinity One will not generate electricity for businesses or homes, but Type One Energy has a goal to build a pilot fusion power plant in the next decade and its Bull Run prototype would verify that its stellarator technology can work at a larger scale.

Tennessee has experienced significant recent investments in clean energy — according to the DOE’s clean energy investment map, the state has invested billions into over 20 clean energy manufacturing projects.

 

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