Malaysian government invests in Burnaby fusion energy company

Malaysian government invests in Burnaby fusion energy company

Vancouver Metro News Emily Jackson, May 18 2015

Malaysia’s state-owned energy company may be dragging its feet when it comes to investing in B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry, but the country is bankrolling another type of energy being developed in the province.

The Malaysian government’s strategic investment fund was the largest investor in the latest $27-million round of funding for Burnaby-based General Fusion, the largest fusion energy program in Canada, the company announced Tuesday.

“I know that the Malaysian government does care a lot about sustainability… that theme is certainly in our discussions with them,” General Fusion CEO Nathan Gilliland said.

“It’s a vote of confidence for fusion energy, a vote of confidence for us, and I think a vote of confidence for Vancouver to be a clean energy hub in Canada,” he said.

The cash influx brings the total investment in General Fusion up to $100 million. The company is trying to figure out how to make fusion energy – this involves heating atoms to extremely high temperatures, creating energy when they collide and fuse – a practical alternative that can be used commercially for electricity.

“Fusion energy is very difficult. The world’s been after it for a few decades,” Gilliland said. “This is a validation that we’re making progress, and the fusion industry is coming into its own.”

U.S. government labs have proven that fusion can be done, but no one has figured out how to do it economically. General Fusion plans to hire additional staff (the company has 60 employees thus far) to work on the problem.

Still, there’s no clear timeline of when fusion energy might be available to the masses, Gilliland said.
“That’s the billion-dollar question,” he said.