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Kerry Announced a ‘New’ Fusion Partnership at COP28

Speaking at an Atlantic Council panel session at COP28 in Dubai, the Biden Administration’s climate envoy John Kerry announced “a U.S. international engagement plan for fusion energy” which appears to focus on the Department of Energy’s collaboration with the U.K., Japan, and European Union nations. He said the “engagement plan” would have five areas of concentration: R&D; supply chains and marketplaces; regulation; educating fusion workforces; and engagement.

Kerry’s announcement did not mention nations other than the U.K., and anecdotally his speech referred to the Commonwealth Fusion company in Massachusetts, TAE Technologies in California, and to Japan’s JT60SA tokamak experiment, a joint project with the European Union.

Kerry, and later Ernest Moniz, the former Obama Administration Secretary of Energy, emphasized that private companies’ fusion R&D projects were making rapid progress; recently, the Department of Energy made a series of grants of about $40 million each to foster 10 of the companies’ collaboration with university or national laboratories. Moniz stressed the $5 billion in private venture capital investments in fusion companies in the past three years, as the most convincing evidence that fusion was not 30 years away; this is much more than public funding of working fusion experiments in those three years.

Kerry said the United States had “proudly announced a decadal program to commercialize fusion energy” in March 2022, but we cannot realize this grand ambition alone. We are laying out the road ahead for an international structure.”

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