Microsoft Inks Fusion Power Deal With Helion, Another Sam Altman Company

Three months after committing to a $10 billion partnership with Sam Altman’s OpenAI, Microsoft signed a deal with another Altman-backed company, Helion, a startup aiming to build the world’s first fusion power plant far sooner than scientists think.

Under an agreement Helion announced today (May 10), Microsoft will purchase electricity from Helion’s future fusion power plant, expected to open in 2028. Helion has promised to provide at least 50 megawatts of electricity to Microsoft after its first year of operation or pay financial penalties. It didn’t disclose a specific amount, however.

Helion is based in Everett, Wash., only a 30-minute drive from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Under the agreement, Helion will deliver power to some of Microsoft’s facilities in the area.

The deal is the first fusion power purchase agreement between two companies. It’s also a bold one because commercial fusion technology doesn’t exist yet and scientists predict it’s still years, even decades, away.

“We are extremely proud to have Microsoft as our first customer!” Helion cofounder and CEO David Kirtley said in a statement today. “With this partnership, not only are we advancing the timeline to have commercial fusion energy on the grid, but we are also supporting Microsoft’s goal to be carbon negative by 2030.”

What is nuclear fusion power and why is it so difficult?
Fusion is a form of nuclear reaction that powers the sun and stars. In a fusion process, two lighter atoms slam together to form a heavier atom, while releasing energy. An example would be two hydrogen atoms fusing to form one helium atom.

A fusion process generates huge amounts of energy several times that of a nuclear fission process, which releases energy by splitting atoms. Fission is a mature power-generating technology and provides nearly 20 percent of electricity in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.

Author: h0mp4g3

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