As a nonprofit, San Diego Regional EDC is supported by investment from nearly 150 private organizations, companies, and public agencies like General Atomics. With this support, EDC provides direct services to help companies grow and thrive in San Diego by leading initiatives to enhance the region’s growth and prosperity.
General Atomics has long been an EDC investor and global leader in energy and defense research and development. In early 2023, Mayor Todd Gloria visited the DIII-D National Fusion Facility at GA’s Torrey Pines campus as part of a series of tours of the region’s leading defense innovators.
Hear about General Atomics’ leadership in the world’s clean energy future and how the company is investing in San Diego.
Tell us about General Atomics and its mission.
Headquartered in San Diego, General Atomics (GA) specializes in diversified research and development for energy, defense, and aircraft. As the world’s largest private participant in fusion energy research, GA aims to provide sustainable, reliable carbon-free energy for future generations through commercialized fusion power plants. Cracking the code on fusion would mean no harmful emissions, no radioactive spent nuclear fuel waste, and no mining for fuel because fusion fuel is derived from seawater.
GA operates the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego on behalf of the Department of Energy (DOE) and has been the sole-source supplier of targets and target support services for the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration’s inertial confinement fusion program since 1991.
Why San Diego?
Founded in San Diego in 1955, GA has proudly called the region home for nearly 70 years. GA’s Torrey Pines campus was originally made possible by the City of San Diego, which arranged a public vote to approve the sale of what was then an empty cow pasture overlooking the Pacific Ocean. While the company now operates on five continents with more than 12,500 employees and more than 8.3 million square feet of engineering, laboratory, and manufacturing facilities worldwide, the majority of GA operations remain in San Diego County.
Over the years, GA has benefited enormously from San Diego’s quality of life, competitive innovation workforce, and partnerships with world-leading universities like UC San Diego and San Diego State University (SDSU). GA has hosted countless students for internships and postdoctoral fellowships, and generations of UC San Diego and SDSU researchers working alongside its scientists and engineers on a wide range of projects. Many of these students have gone on to become leading scientists in their field, some of whom now work full-time in San Diego at GA.
GA is also known for its support of San Diego’s small businesses, which make up 98 percent of the region’s firms. Now a cornerstone of San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, GA as a long-time federal contractor is committed to supporting San Diego’s small, women-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses through its comprehensive DOE-recognized Small Business Program.
Please share more about GA’s collaboration and partnership with San Diego Regional EDC.
GA has been an EDC investor for more than 30 years. Vice Chairman Linden Blue has served as a director and in EDC leadership roles over the years. As GA facilities have expanded, EDC has provided permitting support as well as helping elected leaders understand the company’s economic impact on the region. In recent months, GA has worked the team to arrange behind-the-scenes tours for Mayor Todd Gloria and local business leaders sharing our exciting fission and fusion facilities with community partners.
Looking ahead, what is on the horizon for GA?
Among other initiatives, GA is drawing from its decades of experience in fusion to develop a new concept for a Fusion Pilot Plant that will deliver clean, safe, and economically viable fusion-powered electricity. The facility will utilize GA’s proprietary Fusion Synthesis Engine to enable engineers, physicists, and operators to optimize the plant for maximum efficiency, and has developed a concept for tritium, a fusion fuel, to make the fuel cycle self-sufficient. As part of this project, GA is joining with leading institutions around the world, including France-based ITER Organization, to pursue the most rapid, economically practical path to fusion energy.
The great thing about clean energy is that anyone with a passion for it can find their calling in the space. In addition to the scientists and engineers who create clean technology, San Diego’s GA team needs the same talented business, operations, and marketing professionals that any other company needs to operate successfully. For GA, a clean energy future means access to high quality jobs for all San Diegans.