On March 17, 2022, the White House held a summit on Developing a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy, cohosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The event marked breakthroughs in joint efforts to accelerate fusion energy development on all fronts, and featured key speakers and panel session discussions with leaders from government, industry, and academia. The official White House event readout is here.
Exciting announcements were made, with the DOE announcing a $50 million funding opportunity for fusion development, Dr. Scott Hsu introduced as the new DOE Lead Fusion Energy Coordinator, and the Administration spoking about accelerating commercial fusion energy efforts in a timely capacity that benefits the whole country.
Speakers included the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Alondra Nelson, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory, Representative Don Beyer, and Representative Chuck Fleischmann who all opened the summit with remarks about the positive impact fusion energy deployment will have on the climate and on communities across the world, the importance of partnership in achieving fusion advancements, and the need for fusion acceleration now.
Several FIA members, alongside FIA CEO Andrew Holland, spoke on a panel about the industry side of fusion. David Kirtley from Helion, Bob Mumgaard from Commonwealth Fusion Systems, AJ Kantor from Zap Energy, Michl Binderbauer from TAE Technologies, Greg Piefer from SHINE Technologies, and moderator Carly Anderson discussed key strategies at the intersection of private and public efforts to advance fusion development.
The panel spoke about the need for clarity surrounding fusion regulation, environmental and economic benefits as a result of fusion development, and the need for collective partnership to ensure viable and deployable technology. With a cohesive approach on these fronts, FIA CEO Andrew Holland projected that the “2030s will be the decade of broad fusion deployment around the world.”
In addition to speaking about strides to further research and development, FIA members on the panel spoke about commitments to achieve greater gender inclusion and diversity across the industry. Although necessary within all fields, trends point to STEM fields in particular as fields that must do more to achieve gender parity and diversity.
Ensuring equity in the field was also discussed at length during the social justice and public engagement panel session. During this panel, leaders from government, academia, and the private sector highlighted the vitality of public engagement and diversity for fusion growth. They spoke about concrete steps to ensure that all communities benefit from fusion development, and ways to achieve this at all levels.
The FIA is currently conducting our second annual report to measure this data (in addition to other measures) taken from fusion firms around the world, and instated a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee within the association to share best practices in fostering equity and gender parity in the field.
A panel on fusion technology development discussed the latest tech breakthroughs and plans to push towards commercial fusion usage. Panelists, including Mark Berry from FIA member company Southern Company, spoke about recent developments and what these advancements mean for fusion deployment.
Here is a video by the DOE shown during the event that gives an overview on the current state of fusion:
Dr. Sally Benson, OSTP Deputy Director for Energy, and Dr. Geraldine Richmond, Under Secretary for Science and Innovation at the DOE, closed out the event with remarks that epitomized the collective sentiment at the summit best:
“Decades from now, let’s look back at this moment, in this room, where we acted boldly again to make the impossible possible.” – Dr. Benson
“Now let’s get to work!” – Dr. Richmond
Dr. Benson’s thoughts on fusion are best read in a blog post she wrote, saying “The Next Energy Revolution Begins Now.”
If you were unable to tune in on March 17, here is the official White House summit readout, and below is a recording of the event.