Canadian partners aiming at Nuclear Fusion as future key to Decarbonization

Feb. 4, 2022
Bruce Power, General Fusion and the Nuclear Innovation Institute entered into an MOU to collaborate on develop the Fusion Demonstration Plant in Canada, which would be more energy intensive and yet less radioactive than current fission technologies

Nuclear power, while hugely expensive relative to other electricity generation fuel resources, offers greater efficiencies and capacity factors than renewables in delivering carbon-free power for commercial, industrial and residential customers.

Fission—or splitting the nucleus of atoms of heavy elements to create power—is the way that today’s nuclear energy facilities generate power. But future nuclear fusion, if harnessed commercially, is seen as stronger and yet less radioactive means of helping utilities and industries meet decarbonization goals.

In Canada, three major players are partnering to try and accelerate the deliver of nuclear fusion power in that nation. Electricity generator Bruce Power, General Fusion and the Nuclear Innovation Institute have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on these goals.

Together, the organizations will evaluate potential deployment of a fusion power plant in Ontario, including in the tri-county Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron. The partners will build on existing clean energy technologies, skills, and expertise in the region to develop a go-forward strategy, according to Bruce Power, which owns and operates the 6.5-GW, 8-unit Bruce Generating Station along the shores of Lake Huron.

They will also lead stakeholder and public outreach activities to raise awareness of the transformative potential of powering Canadian homes, businesses, and industry with zero-carbon, reliable, and affordable fusion energy, according to the release.

“In order to achieve a net-zero future here in Ontario, and Canada, we need to continue expanding the clean electricity production of our existing facilities and will need innovation as part of the future,” Mike Rencheck, President and CEO, Bruce Power, said in a statement. “Our partnership will explore these innovations and leverage the established capability in this region as a home to new technologies that will contribute to a carbon-free future.”

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British Columbia-based General Fusion is a global firm focused on fusion energy technology development. To confirm the performance and economics of its Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) technology at a power-plant-relevant scale, General Fusion is building a Fusion Demonstration Plant, which is scheduled to be operational in 2025.

If successful, General Fusion plans to deliver zero-carbon nuclear fusion energy worldwide by the 2030s.

“This landmark MOU provides a framework in which Canada’s energy leaders can benefit from each other’s technology innovations and expertise to lead the way in adopting fusion power in Ontario and across Canada,” said Christofer Mowry, CEO, General Fusion. “We look forward to advancing this partnership to help meet Canada’s climate targets and the increasing electricity needs of Canadians.”

Fusion, which is the way the sun derives its energy, utilizes lighter elements like hydrogen and helium, but the energy intensity and efficiency is considered greater than fission. The challenges, however, are significant and include electrostatic barriers, among other things.

Many nuclear entities are researching fusion possibilities as the process is less radioactive than fission’s method involving uranium and other heavier components. Several nations are working together on the giant experimental International Thermonuclear Reactor project in France.

The United Kingdom has announced plans for a prototype nuclear fusion plant.

In the U.S., meanwhile, companies such as NuScale Power are exploring next-gen small modular reactors projects. Last year, the Idaho National Laboratory delivered a report on the potential for next-gen nuclear to be a resource of Net-Zero Microgrids.