April Virtual Press Briefing: Fusion: Is Commercialization in Sight?

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Is fusion ready for prime time?

There are intimations that fusion’s time may have arrived. After more than 70 years of research, huge public funding and many false starts, overblown expectations and sorry disappointments, are the prospects of an electricity-producing fusion plant at hand? Has the key to turn in the door of a vast storehouse of clean electricity become available?

Those are the formative questions that will underlie the United States Energy Association virtual press briefing on Wednesday, April 3, at 11 a.m. EDT. Fusion, its advocates and its doubters, will meet the media live on Zoom. The briefing is open to the press and the public.

Some $6 billion has been invested in commercial fusion companies in the United States, and the Department of Energy has seed-funded eight firms. In all, there are 25 U.S. companies that are reported to be working on fusion as a power source. Worldwide, 40 companies are thrusting forward; China is leading the chase outside the United States.

As usual, a panel of senior journalists, this time from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Washington Post, PBS, Energy Central,and a veteran freelance will question a panel of fusion experts from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute, a former head of the White House Office Science and Technology Policy, and a technology developer.

This hour-long press conference on the air will be unrehearsed, and the public can send in questions via the Zoom chat function.

Mark Menezes, USEA President and CEO, and former Deputy Secretary of Energy, will welcome participants, briefly sketch the history of the USEA in its centennial year, and be on hand to lend his expertise where appropriate. Llewellyn King, writer and broadcaster, has organized the briefing and will host it.

Confirmed experts:

Dr. Jean Paul Allain, Associate Director, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy

Brandon Sorbom, Chief Science Officer and Co-founder, Commonwealth Fusion Systems

Tammy Ma, Lead, Inertial Fusion Energy Initiative, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Diana Grandas, Fusion Energy Analyst, Electric Power Research Institute

John Holdren, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and former White House Science Advisor

Stephen Dean, President, Fusion Power Associates

The reporters:

Jennifer Hiller, The Wall Street Journal

Evan Halper, The Washington Post

Adam Clayton Powell III, PBS

Matt Chester, Energy Central

Ken Silverstein, Forbes