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Exclusive: Type One picks TVA site near Knoxville for fusion project

A computer rendering of a gray, twisting stellarator for fusion energy.

A computer rendering of Type One's stellarator. Image: Courtesy of Type One Energy

Fusion energy developer Type One Energy is building its first prototype at one of the Tennessee Valley Authority's shuttered coal plants outside of Knoxville.

Why it matters: Type One's planned $223 million investment is a first for the TVA, the largest public power company in the U.S., and a major step forward for fusion's role in climate tech.

Details: Type One and Tennessee officials this afternoon are expected to announce plans, starting next year, to build a so-called stellarator at the TVA's Bull Run Fossil Plant, a person familiar with the plans tells Axios.

  • Type One expects to invest the $223 million in the prototype and a new headquarters facility in Eastern Tennessee.
  • The company was also selected to receive funding through Tennessee's new $50 million nuclear energy development fund, a TVA spokesperson tells Axios.

Of note: The developments flow from a memorandum of understanding that Type One signed last year with the TVA and the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Catch up fast: Fusion is the moonshot nuclear energy technology, promising near-limitless, waste-free, and zero-carbon electricity.

  • Type One's twisty stellarator is especially complex. But the design is alluring because it could produce stable reactions at lower cost.

What's happening: Type One is leasing the TVA site for its prototype that will test how well the company's design contains and suppresses turbulence in an ultra-hot reaction.

  • The idea is to de-risk technology that will eventually be used in a working fusion power plant.

What's next: Type One is moving ahead on its first fusion power plant, which it aims to switch on in about 10 years.

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