Eni signs new collaboration agreement with CFS to support development of commercial fusion energy
13 March 2023
Eni and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a spin-out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) signed a Collaboration Framework Agreement with the aim of accelerating the industrialization of fusion energy.
Eni made its first investment into CFS in 2018 and is a significant shareholder. This strategic agreement will leverage Eni’s global engineering and project management experience for a series of projects to support CFS and the development and deployment of fusion energy on an industrial scale.
Eni says it was the first energy company to believe in and invest in fusion, which could make a major contribution to the energy transition once it is developed on an industrial level.
Eni says CFS has the fastest pathway to commercial deployment of fusion energy. In September 2021, the company reached a major milestone with the successful test of its high-temperature superconducting magnet technology—the strongest magnet of its kind in the world, which will ensure plasma confinement in the magnetic fusion process, and which has paved the way for achieving net energy from fusion in a future demonstration plant.
The CFS path with support from Eni is one built on a pragmatic and progressive approach towards the deployment of magnetic confinement fusion technology in the next decade. SPARC, projected to become the world’s first magnetic confinement pilot plant with net production of fusion energy, is in construction and will be operational in 2025. SPARC will 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.
We will see the first CFS power plant based on magnetic confinement fusion at the beginning of the next decade, with then almost two decades ahead to deploy the technology and achieve the energy transition goals by 2050. Having this technology at the industrial level, providing large quantities of zero carbon energy produced in a safe, clean and virtually inexhaustible way, will mean that we will contribute substantially to the energy transition challenge. This is why we are facing a potentially momentous technological breakthrough.
For several years, Eni has placed technology leadership, with a neutrality and diversification approach, at the heart of its decarbonization path. Being aware of the great strategic value of this technology and the soundness of CFS, since 2018 Eni has invested in the business and was the first energy company to concretely engage in this sector. We now further strengthen this collaboration with our expertise and experience with the aim of accelerating the industrialization path of fusion as much as possible.—Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi
The Framework Agreement aims at accelerating the industrial development of ARC as well with a series of projects now under development that could include operational and technological support, technological development, project execution through the sharing of methodologies learned from the energy industry, as well as relationships with stakeholders.
For Eni magnetic confinement fusion has a central role among the technologies that can lead the way to decarbonization as it will prospectively allow humanity to have a virtually inexhaustible supply of energy and without CO2.
As a lifelong advocate of nuclear power, and one who thinks that carbon capture is possible, I should be overjoyed to learn that:
' An energy security strategy will be launched “shortly”, Rishi Sunak has promised, with a focus on ramping up carbon capture and small modular reactors to develop homegrown energy and meet net zero commitments.
Ministers have been forced to rework their plans after a ruling by the high court last July. It found that the government’s net zero strategy was unlawful due to a breach of the 2008 Climate Change Act, given the document did not outline how climate policies would meet legally binding carbon budgets.'
instead I think that this is greenwashing at its worst, produced by a desperate government to fake compliance, now that their previous non existent plans have been shown to be illegal, so instead they are going to continue to take rake offs from the fossil fuel companies, on the condition they fake up some carbon capture whilst expanding fossil fuel extraction, without serious intent to actually do much of it, as it is expensive.
Used as a cover story, like so much else by this government.
And as for nuclear, I like the idea of small modular nuclear.
You can't base a serious energy policy on a technology where there is not yet a single working example, and costs are forecasts without operational experience though.
I made the same criticism 20 or 30 years ago, about off shore wind, where the cost and maintenance forecasts were, to put it bluntly, a lie.
And it duly cost many, many billions more than claimed.
That did not mean that off shore wind could not be improved, and now it is a different matter, and we can now do serious, objective forecasts of further future falls in cost.
That and things like far better insulation of buildings are the serious options, which the UK Government ignores, as it is easier and suits their industrial sponsers who the MPs drift off to in 'consultancy' roles after having passed enough legislation to stuff the energy companies profits.
None of that means that small modular reactors can't work and can't make a big contribution either.
But I think that it is simply being used here to provide cover for reckless expansion of fossil fuels, with the carbon capture bit miniscule and avoided as much as possible. as it costs money.
Posted by: Davemart | 13 March 2023 at 02:32 PM