Asia Times recently released a three-part series where they interviewed Andrew Holland, the director of the Fusion Industry Association.
In part one, Andrew details some background on the FIA, and explains how it was formed through his involvement with the ARPA-E ALPHA program.
“The idea is that we are at the birth right now of fusion moving out of the lab and into the private sector, into a world where fusion power is on the grid. And the companies that will be leading that are coming around now.”
In part two, Andrew talks about the impact the recent U.S. government appropriations bill will have on fusion, and how it sets the stage for new public-private partnerships, which the FIA has been advocating for. The bill, signed last December by President Trump, includes language that sets a goal of establishing a cost-competitive fusion power industry.
“The government would work with the companies to find specific milestones that the companies would need to meet. And then once they’re met, they would release the funding for it to further build it out. It’s a way to give ‘skin in the game’ to private companies as well as to the US government to create a real partnership, and it also protects the taxpayer.”
The third and final part is focused on how the private sector is surpassing government programs in the race to develop commercial fusion power plants. Andrew mentions that various advances in technology have enabled private fusion companies to design more efficient and cost-competitive solutions, and he then goes on to talk about the possible societal and economic impact this new industry could have.
“There’s also the broader societal impact of creating new jobs in the industry, new jobs in support, a whole gamut of things. This is a new export industry. This could be a huge thing in the United States alone. Energy is a US$1 trillion per year industry. To imagine that fusion can take all of that is probably a stretch, but it can certainly take a substantial share. And that would be a huge boost to any economy that produces it.”