CNL announces programmes to speed fusion deployment

17 June 2024

Canada’s national nuclear laboratory has unveiled its fusion roadmap report and announced plans to expand two of its flagship clean energy programmes encompass fusion technologies and accelerate fusion deployment in Canada.

Fusion Energy for Canada was launched by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) at the Fusion Day 2024 forum in Ottawa (Image: CNL)

Fusion energy has the potential to provide Canada with reliable and resilient clean energy to support net-zero by 2050 and beyond, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) said at the Fusion Day 2024 event in Ottawa. Fusion research is now accelerating in maturity, moving from solving engineering problems to now building demonstrations and prototypes, it said, with some 98 currently operating fusion experiments and demonstration facilities globally, with 13 under construction and a further 33 planned. The market for commercial fusion has also grown rapidly, with more than 43 private fusion companies operating globally, attracting more than CAD8.2 billion (USD6 billion) in funding.

The CNL-led Fusion Energy for Canada report calls on the Canadian government to "promptly mobilise a fusion ecosystem through a clear policy and mandate, in order to capitalise on the economic benefits available from the domestic implementation of fusion energy and to support the international nuclear sector".

To help Canada seize this opportunity, CNL said it will open up its small modular reactor (SMR) Invitation Process to host demonstration units at the Chalk River and Whiteshell Laboratories to include fusion prototype reactors and other clean energy technologies. CNL operates the laboratories on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

It also announced the expansion of its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative programme, which enables collaborative research projects with advanced nuclear reactor vendors through a cost-shared model to include other forms of clean energy, to include a "larger focus" on fusion-based research and development.

"At CNL, we recognise that fusion has tremendous potential to unlock a transformative, clean energy future domestically, in order to fight climate change and ensure our national security," CNL Vice-President of Science & Technology Stephen Bushby said. "Given our extensive expertise and resources in nuclear, hydrogen and other forms of clean energy, Canada is well-positioned to seize a leadership role in this industry, but it means that we have to act decisively and work together."

Amy Gottschling, AECL's vice-president of Science, Technology and Commercial Oversight, said the announcement underscores AECL's commitment to enabling innovation and commercialisation of new nuclear energy technologies, particularly where demonstration is needed to advance readiness level. "We continue to encourage clean energy technology developers to leverage our sites, assets, and capabilities at the Chalk River Laboratories (or other CNL-managed sites) to advance vital projects. Specifically with respect to fusion energy, we are very excited about the opportunity to build on Canada’s legacy as a global leader in cutting-edge nuclear science and technology to create a strong and vibrant fusion industry that not only yields economic benefit, but also furthers our nation’s climate change goals," she said.

CNL has recently announced fusion energy-related agreements and projects with Kyoto Fusioneering, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Stellarex and General Fusion, including the formation of the Fusion Fuel Cycles Inc joint venture between with Kyoto Fusioneering, which aims to develop and deploy deuterium-tritium fusion fuel cycle technologies.

"In recent years, interest and research into fusion has been growing at an extraordinary pace here in Canada and around the world, as has our own fusion program at CNL, and we want to make sure that Canada is at the forefront of this new era in clean energy technology," said Ian Castillo, head of CNL’s Hydrogen and Tritium Technologies Directorate.

More information on CNL's fusion programme can be found here.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News