A company backed by Jeff Bezos — whose own firm Amazon is being pushed by its employees to do more to fight climate change — is raising funds with a goal of producing energy with zero carbon emission.
General Fusion raised $65 million from Singapore’s Temasek Holdings this week to build its first prototype plant. The new plant will test its technology in a real world situation, a crucial step toward commercialization, the British Columbia company said. The investment brings General Fusion’s total funding to $143.9 million, according to data compiled by PitchBook.
Fusion harnesses energy from bringing together deuterium and tritium molecules. While the technology is under development, the promise of generating clean power is drawing investments from governments and private investors.
“The world is pivoting toward fusion as a necessary complement to other technologies which, collectively, will enable the carbon-free energy future we all need,” Chief Executive Officer Christofer Mowry said in the press release announcing the investment.
Governments around the world preparing to harness fusion energy. ITER, a collaboration of 35 countries, is the world’s largest fusion experiment located in Southern France. The U.K. committed £200m to deliver power from fusion by 2040. U.S., Russia and China are all working on developing fusion reactors.
Private investors are also betting on the startups racing to commercialize the clean energy. There are 21 private companies developing fusion energy in the world, and 15 of them are located in the U.S., PitchBook says. Venture capital spent a total $184.5 million in 4 deals this year, over twofold from 2018. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Fusion Systems scored $115 million series A in June the largest fundraising in the space this year.
Canadian investors are especially active in the field. Top 3 investors includes Vancouver-based Chrysalix Venture Capital, Business Investment Bank of Canada from Montreal and New York-based Braemar Energy Ventures.
Bezos’s Bezo Expeditions VC firm has invested in three previous General Fusion rounds, PitchBook data show. Amazon’s 1-day shipping has been criticized for adding to greenhouse gases.
- Fusion energy was produced by fusing together atoms, such as hydrogen, in an environment mimicking the center of the sun where extremely high pressure and temperature exist. Under such an environment, gas will transform to electrically-charged gas, or plasma, which is the fourth state of matter besides solid, liquid and gas.
- Serving as the fuel of fusion energy, plasma’s the different density and lifespan underpin different companies’ approaches. General Fusion employs plasma with medium density and the compression phase takes place in microseconds.