Centralia Coal Transition Board awards a $1M grant to Zap Energy

(Grant to support a feasibility study for a fusion energy pilot plant in Centralia, Washington)

Centralia, (September 28, 2022) The Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board is pleased to announce it has approved a grant in the amount of $1,000,000 to Zap Energy, a Seattle, Washington based company to assess the feasibility of siting a Zap fusion energy pilot plant at the site of the former TransAlta Big Hanaford gas plant located in Centralia, Washington. This grant award will be leveraged with matching funding from Zap Energy.

“We are excited to support companies like Zap Energy as they continue on their journey to explore, innovate, and lead us into this new era of energy generation,” says Mickey Dreher, board member. “The results of the feasibility assessment will not only help determine if the project has a local fit but will also provide some insight to determine if there is existing infrastructure and technology at the Big Hanaford site that might be used by a future safe and emission-free fusion pilot plant”.

The assessment will be performed by a combination of experts from Zap Energy and their partners. The three primary objectives of the assessment will be to create conceptual engineering and architectural design drawings; perform preliminary environmental and safety surveys; and engage local, state, and federal stakeholders to gather feedback on this potential first-of-a-kind fusion plant. The goal is to have the assessment completed by August 2023.

“After decades of progress in fusion development, we’re finally at a point where the path to commercialization is becoming a central focus of the industry,” says Zap Energy Vice President of Product Ryan Umstattd. “This project gives us the opportunity to design within a set of real-world conditions, right here in our home state, and will provide valuable insight as we plan for our first power plant.”

The Energy Technology Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington. This agreement allowed for the Centralia plant to move away from coal-fired operations with one unit retiring in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025. TransAlta is investing $55 million into Lewis and South Thurston Counties and the state of Washington through the Coal Transition Boards.

About Zap Energy

Zap Energy is building a low-cost, compact, and scalable fusion energy platform that confines and compresses plasma without the need for expensive and complex magnetic coils. Zap’s sheared-flow-stabilized Z-pinch technology offers the shortest potential path to commercially viable fusion and requires orders of magnitude less capital than traditional approaches. Zap Energy has over 75 employees in two facilities near Seattle and is backed by leading financial and strategic investors.

About Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards

Overview of the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards:

Annual payments for the funding boards have been made since 2012 with the last payment due December 31, 2023.  The opportunity to start flowing dollars into projects became effective December 31, 2015.

Weatherization Board ($10M): established to fund energy efficiency and weatherization for the residents, employees, business, non-profit organizations and local governments within Lewis County and South Thurston County; up to $1 million shall be allocated to fund residential energy efficiency and weatherization measures for low-income and moderate-income residents of Lewis County and South Thurston County;

Economic & Community Development Board ($20M): established to fund education, retraining, economic development, and community enhancement; at least $5M shall be allocated to fund education, retraining and economic development specifically targeting the needs of workers displaced from the Centralia facility;

Energy Technology Board ($25M): established to fund energy technologies with the potential to create environmental benefits to the state of Washington.