Major Fusion Energy Milestone Brings Increased Attention to the Promise of Fusion

Image Source: Damien Jemison/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

SEATTLE, Wash. — On December 13, 2022, Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) alongside the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the achievement of fusion ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) located in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

On December 5, a team at LLNL’s NIF conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to reach this milestone, also known as scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it.

“This is a landmark achievement for the researchers and staff at the National Ignition Facility who have dedicated their careers to seeing fusion ignition become a reality, and this milestone will undoubtedly spark even more discovery,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Granholm said.

Dr. Scott Hsu, Senior Advisor and Lead Fusion Coordinator at the Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Innovation at the U.S. DOE remarked that: “Demonstration of fusion ‘scientific energy breakeven’ is a milestone that scientists worldwide have been chasing for over 60 years. This milestone provides proof that fusion is a possible source of carbon-free energy for the world, although significant scientific and technological challenges remain to be solved before practical fusion-energy production can be realized. This achievement will hopefully bring increased attention to the promise of fusion and the support needed to tackle the remaining scientific and technological challenges as quickly as possible.”

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this day – the day when fusion exceeded the critical scientific breakeven threshold,” said Dr. Sally M. Benson, Deputy Director for Energy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). “There will be many more critical thresholds to exceed on the path to commercial fusion energy – but the ingenuity and perseverance of American scientists and engineers give me confidence, that one day, commercial fusion energy will become a reality.”

Andrew Holland, CEO of the Fusion Industry Association (FIA), commented, “Today’s announcement shows the world that fusion is not science fiction: it will soon be a viable source of energy. This will give governments around the world further incentive to support the development of commercial fusion energy. It also shows that now is the time to establish regulatory regimes, which both protect the public and encourage innovation.”

The Washington State Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP), which is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), has funded an economic development cluster led by the CleanTech Alliance. This cluster initiative contains a fusion energy working group dedicated to raising public awareness with educational events, such as Seattle Fusion Week and the follow-on Fusion Energy for Environmental Advocates Panel. Members of the working group consist of the western Washington fusion companies: Avalanche Energy, CTFusion, Helion, and Zap Energy.

With four fusion companies in the Puget Sound area, Washington State has the highest concentration of fusion energy companies anywhere in the world.

ICAP was launched by the Washington State Department of Commerce in 2021 to transform the state’s legacy industries and build new industries for the future. The BUILT Cluster – led by the CleanTech Alliance – advances the development and adoption of clean technologies to decarbonize elements of the built environment including human-made structures and facilities where people live and work.

Interested in learning more about fusion? On Friday, February 3, 2023 from 10:00-11:00am PT, join the CleanTech Alliance for our virtual event titled “Fusion Energy for Environmental Advocates”. Learn more and register.

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Media Contact:

Jennifer Audet
 Director of Programs and Communications
 CleanTech Alliance