By Randy Glein, Sam Fort, and Chris Shanahan
At DFJ Growth, we partner with visionary entrepreneurs who foresee a better future and have the ability to bring that future forward. We proudly back bold visions that leverage disruptive technological innovation to solve big challenges on a grand scale. And there are few challenges bigger than eliminating the world’s reliance on dirty, carbon-based energy sources. Solving this problem is essential to our collective future. Enter Bob Mumgaard and the world-class team at Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS). CFS is poised to build the world’s first commercial fusion energy systems that will provide an abundant supply of clean power in the future — and we are proud to partner with them as part of their $1.8 billion Series B financing.
We have banded together with several other investors and organizations intent on building toward a decarbonized future, leveraging private sector experience and capital to bring the future forward, faster and more effectively than previously thought possible.
Climate change is an existential threat to our society. DFJ Growth has been investing in companies helping to mitigate the climate crisis for over a decade, including SolarCity, Tesla, and most recently NotCo, all of which are bringing affordable and sustainable products like residential solar, electric vehicles, and plant-based foods to the world. Despite the progress these innovators have made, coal and gas power plants remain the primary method of global electricity production today. While renewable energy sources like solar and wind have grown significantly over the past two decades, they are not continuously available and cannot be readily deployed universally in all geographies. Nuclear fusion is the theoretical ideal: clean power at equal or lower cost to alternatives, generated with safe and abundant materials found in seawater, and agnostic to geographic location, time of day, and prevailing weather conditions.
Since fusion was demonstrated 60 years ago, it has promised a scalable, economically competitive, zero emission power source … but one that has always seemed just out of reach technologically. Our team has followed developments in fusion energy for the past decade, but most approaches have failed on a critical dimension — they use more power than they generate. Until now.
The CFS team has finally done it, breaking through longstanding barriers with an innovative magnet design using high-temperature superconducting materials that promise to provide a safe, sustainable, and scalable source of clean fusion power.
They recently demonstrated the capability needed to generate net positive energy for the first time, which will center on combining their magnet with a well-understood tokamak design. In other words, making fusion energy a commercial reality has just moved from being a science project to a practical, solvable engineering exercise. This is an enormous step forward, and a project worthy of our full effort given the immense and global magnitude of the problem being addressed.
CFS is now working towards the world’s first net positive energy fusion plant, called SPARC, slated for completion in 2025, with the first commercial plant operating at scale, ARC, by the early 2030s. This effort holds the promise of powering a small city through a facility no bigger than a tennis court, with a single glass of water providing enough fusion “fuel” for a person’s entire lifetime energy consumption. With Bob leading a world-class team heralding from technological innovators like SpaceX and Tesla, we can see CFS and fusion energy at the center of a low-cost, carbon-free future. We are beyond excited to join Bob and his team to help power the future of our planet! Let’s go!