Fusion Industry Association Hosts Second Annual Conference
The Fusion Industry Association (FIA) hosted our second annual conference on March 29, 2023 in Washington, DC. The annual FIA conference is a space for leaders in government, industry, science, and academia to come together and discuss concrete ways to accelerate the path to fusion commercialization.
Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Director of the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy, opened the conference with remarks supporting fusion energy acceleration and looking forward to commercialization.
Following Dr. Berhe’s opening remarks, FIA CEO Andrew Holland moderated a panel discussion on Enabling Commercialization, with participation from Sam Wurzel, Technology-to-Market Advisor at ARPA-E; Andrea Jarrett, Head of Supply Chain at Commonwealth Fusion Systems; Mark Plesko, CEO of Cosylab; Mac Hatch, VP of Strategy at MetOx; and Konstantin Boucke, Managing Director at TRUMPF Photonics. The group had a lively discussion on the current fusion supply chain, and what is needed to rapidly scale up at the global level. (Stay tuned: the FIA will publish a Supply Chain report in coming weeks, which will give further insight into the industry.)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Annie Caputo joined the conference to give remarks on the importance of regulating fusion in a risk-informed, fusion-specific manner. She then joined Jeff Merrifield, Partner and Global Energy Section Leader at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and former NRC Commissioner himself, for a discussion on NRC activity and next steps in the US regulatory landscape.
To continue the regulatory conversation, Jackie Mutai, Senior Law Clerk at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, moderated a panel discussion featuring Andrew Proffitt, Senior Project Manager at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); Auggie Ong, Administrator of NH Division of Public Health Services, Radiological Health Section; and Jeff Merrifield, Partner and Global Energy Section Leader at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.
Just over a year since the White House Summit on “Developing a Bold Decadal Vision for Fusion Energy”, Dr. Rian Bahran, Assistant Director for Nuclear Technology and Strategy at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), gave remarks on the White House perspective for accelerating fusion energy research and development towards commercialization. Dr. Bahran voiced the Administration’s support, highlighting the inclusion of “Fusion Energy at Scale” on the list of five key innovations to achieve the United States’ net-zero goals by 2050.
Building off of Dr. Bahran’s remarks, Heather Jackson, President at Interlock Energy, moderated a panel discussion on “Accelerating the Bold Decadal Vision,” specifically through public-private partnerships. Scott Hsu, Senior Advisor and Lead Fusion Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of the Under Secretary for Science & Innovation; Diana Grandas, Engineer/Scientist of Transformative Nuclear Technologies at EPRI; Jay Brister, Chief Business Development Officer of General Fusion; R David Edelman, Chief Policy & Global Affairs Officer at TAE Technologies; and Ryan Umstattd, VP of Product & Partnerships at Zap Energy joined the discussion. The group discussed the benefits of combining the expertise of national labs and universities with the ambitions and efforts of the private sector, citing the milestone-based public-private partnership program and INFUSE program, among other strategies to capitalize.
To close out the conference, Fusion Energy Caucus Chairs Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03), Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), and Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08) joined to give remarks and participate in a bipartisan panel discussion on Congressional activity supporting fusion. The three Members of Congress voiced their strong support for fusion energy funding, and remarked on fusion’s vast potential to mitigate the energy and climate crises and increase national security at a crucial time. We appreciate the incredible work done by Members of Congress at the policy level, continuing to drive fusion advancement.
Thank you to all who participated and joined us. We appreciate the support as we work to advance fusion energy in all arenas, and look forward to continue to work together at the public and private levels. Congresswoman Trahan summed up the status of fusion energy well: “With fusion, the future couldn’t be brighter.”
More pictures from the conference are here: