Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Eni agree on fusion commercialisation

17 March 2023

US-based Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and Italy’s Eni have signed a strategic framework agreement to advance commercialisation of fusion energy. This new multi-year collaboration builds on long-term cooperation between the two companies. CFS said the agreement is based on mapping existing collaboration and a shared belief that innovative fusion energy research combined with the speed of the private sector can deliver the fastest path to clean commercial fusion energy to combat climate change. The initiative will allow the two companies to join forces in several exploratory domains such as technology collaboration, supply chain development, and innovative solutions and business models for CFS’ global ARC business.

CFS CEO Bob Mumgaard said the agreement “underscores the key role existing energy companies play in accelerating fusion energy industrialization and the power of pairing of complementary organizations”. Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi expects to see the first CFS power plant based on magnetic confinement fusion at the beginning of the next decade and “to deploy the technology and achieve the energy transition goals by 2050”.

The two companies will work on project SPARC, which is in construction in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is scheduled to be operational in 2025. The MIT Plasma Science & Fusion Centre and CFS are developing a conceptual design for SPARC, a compact, high-field, net fusion energy device. SPARC would be the size of existing mid-sized fusion devices, but with a much stronger magnetic field. MIT says the experiment would be the first demonstration of net energy gain and would validate the promise of high-field devices built with new superconducting technology. According to CFS, SPARC will ultimately pave the way for ARC, the first commercial power plant capable of feeding electricity into the grid, which is projected to be operational in the early 2030s.

Under the terms of the agreement, CFS and Eni will explore key initiatives, that could include:

  • Strategy and support in scaling CFS’s global ARC business, including power plant siting, market development, and the development of fusion workforce;
  • Project execution and operations collaboration for ARC and SPARC;
  • Supply chain development and management;
  • Technology collaboration in areas where the energy industry has unique capabilities, such as remote maintenance and robotics; and
  • Policy and international market development, including fusion energy regulations, and fusion education to help ensure a globally deployable technology.

CFS was spun out of MIT’s Plasma Science & Fusion Centre as a private company in 2018, and has since raised more than $2bn in funding.

Image courtesy of Nova News

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