US to announce global nuclear fusion strategy at COP28

The U.S. will lay out the first international strategy to commercialize nuclear fusion power at the upcoming UN climate summit in Dubai, U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry will say on Monday, two sources familiar with the announcement said.

Fusion could have an important advantage over today’s nuclear fission plants that split atoms, as it does not produce long-lasting radioactive waste. If deployed successfully, it could also provide a cheap source of carbon-free electricity.

The former secretary of state will announce his plan to lay out the strategy that foresees strengthened cooperation with other countries aiming to speed commercialization on a tour of fusion company Commonwealth Fusion Systems near Boston. The UK and the United States on Nov. 8 signed a cooperation agreement on fusion.

Fusion, the process that powers the sun and stars to generate electricity, can be replicated on Earth with heat and pressure using lasers or magnets to smash two light atoms into a denser one, releasing large amounts of energy.

In August, scientists using laser beams at a national lab in California repeated a fusion breakthrough called ignition where for an instant the amount of energy coming from the fusion reaction surpassed that concentrated on the target.

Kerry, who as a U.S. senator more than a decade ago backed legislation that would fund fusion research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will tour Commonwealth with Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Italian energy company Eni (ENI.MI). Eni is working on four fusion research partnerships in Italy and the U.S., including one with Commonwealth.

“I will have much more to say on the United States’ vision for international partnerships for an inclusive fusion energy future at COP28,” Kerry said in a statement.

Decades of federal investment is transforming fusion from an experiment to “an emerging climate solution”, he added.