Artist’s rendering of the Fusion Demonstration Plant that General Fusion is planning to build at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham Campus near London. (General Fusion Image)

The news: The fusion energy field just keeps getting hotter. British Columbia’s General Fusion on Tuesday said that it has raised $130 million in funding to develop its ambitious clean energy technology.

And the announcement teased to the promise of more cash to come, stating that this was merely “the prelude to a large financing round being prepared for 2022.” The latest round brings the funding total to approximately $300 million.

Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos is a longtime backer of General Fusion and his VC arm Bezos Expeditions participated in the round.

The funding will help General Fusion develop its technology at its new Vancouver headquarters, build its power-plant scale Fusion Demonstration Plant near London, and conduct research at its newly opened facility adjacent to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

The gist: The company, which launched nearly 20 years ago, is pursuing what for decades has been an illusive dream of developing a financially viable source of fusion power. Researchers say that the vision might at last come to fruition, pointing to advancements in computer processing, groundbreaking magnetic technologies and new materials are potentially bringing fusion within reach.

That said, there are still skeptics who question how soon the technology could become available on a scale that makes a difference in world’s pursuit of clean energy, and the promise carries a huge price tag.

The competition: Everett, Wash.-based Helion earlier this month announced a $500 million investment round. California’s TAE Technologies, has raised two rounds this year totaling an estimated $410 million. Seattle’s Zap Energy, one of the newer players, landed $27.5 million in May.

There are at least 42 fusion energy companies worldwide, with many located in the U.S.

The investors: General Fusion’s Series E round was led by Temasek and included some new investors: Jameel Investment Management Company, a large U.S. state pension plan, and the hedge fund firm Segra Capital.

Additional previous investors participating in the round were Singapore’s GIC, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Tobias Lutke’s Thistledown Capital, and Kam Ghaffarian (IBX).

The takeaway: Fusion companies are jockeying to lead the sector, and Tuesday’s announcement displayed some of that swagger.

“General Fusion’s unique global presence, with facilities in three countries, allows us to be much more ambitious in pushing toward commercialization,” said CEO Christofer Mowry.

“Segra Capital believes General Fusion is best positioned among its peer group to deliver fusion at a commercial scale in the near term,” said Adam Rodman, founder of Segra Capital.

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Source: Geek Wire

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