Investors are pushing Marvel Fusion, one of the few European startups trying to deliver carbon-neutral fusion energy, to move to the US as US officials try to lure clean energy companies across the Atlantic.
“The pressure is growing day by day, also from our existing investors, for a possible move to the US,” Moritz von der Linden, founder and CEO of the four-year-old German company, told the Financial Times.
Investor pressure is due in part to the $1.4 billion the US government has set aside for the domestic merger industry, a figure the Merger Industry Association of America has referred to as “record funding.”
The move comes as US officials from several states try to attract foreign groups to America by touting the deep tax breaks and support available to them from the historic Inflation Reduction Act.
The law, passed in August, would provide about $370 billion in subsidies, some of which is earmarked for clean energy, such as the fusion industry, marking America’s most ambitious effort to tackle climate change.
“The law to lower inflation has completely changed the playing field in favor of the United States,” von der Linden said, pointing to the contrast between the industrial policies of Washington and Brussels.
He is also concerned about the impact the law will have on the level of investment that energy-intensive companies in the steel, aluminum and chemicals sectors – potential clients for start-ups – will make in Europe in the next five to 10 years. .
Heik Freund, Marvel Fusion’s chief operating officer, believes European governments should “step in as customers” rather than trying to keep clean energy companies in the region with subsidies.
A dual statement released by Germany and France, as their leaders met over the weekend, said the two countries would “work together to see where the new technological breakthroughs are”. [in fusion energy] That could be possible. . . Taking into account also industry initiatives in this area.”
Freund welcomed the statement but said it weakened Washington’s commitment, adding that new investors were worried about Europe’s suitability as a home for fusion energy startups.
“When it comes to larger funding rounds, investors would also like to see a commitment from the German government for consolidation,” she said, adding that without clearer signals from Brussels and Berlin that companies in the space would be supported “it will be impossible to raise private financing.”
Marvel Fusion is trying to develop laser-propelled fusion, which involves creating what might be called artificial suns through the use of lasers.
The company wants to raise 350 million euros to build a so-called laser-driven fusion technical demonstrator to prove its concept and demonstrate the physics to potential investors and customers.
It aims to commercialize its technology in the next five to 10 years, which means partnering with a steel, aluminum or chemicals group, or the government, to build a prototype fusion power plant.
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