The Latest Developments in Fusion Energy at the Royal Institution

The Latest Developments in Fusion Energy at the Royal Institution

Feb 05, 2024

On Friday 2nd February, Fusion Energy Insights’ founder Melanie Windridge took to the stage at the Royal Institution’s iconic Faraday Theatre in Mayfair London.

It was fantastic to see the theatre packed out for this event – ‘The Latest Developments in Fusion Energy’ organised by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

The panel, Melanie Windridge, Pietro Barabaschi, Tammy Ma and Fernanda Rimini. © Celestine Cheong, UKAEA

The audience were about to hear updates from Fernanda Rimini (UKAEA) about the Joint European Torus (JET) deuterium-tritium experimental results, Pietro Barabaschi (Director General of ITER) about construction progress on the ITER tokamak, and Tammy Ma (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) about ignition at NIF.

Melanie Windridge opens the event at the Royal Institution ©UKAEA

Melanie opened the event and gave some context around the need for fusion energy and the growth of the industry.

Over the past year or so we have seen much progress (often commented on in our blog—see our News Insights) including public labs breaking world records, private companies validating their approaches to fusion and governments increasingly taking notice. We’ve seen fusion strategies or commitments from the UK, US, Japan and Germany, as well as countries setting up their regulatory frameworks.

We’re also increasingly seeing partnerships. Public-private partnerships, of course, where the private companies get access to the expertise and facilities of public labs, but also partnerships between private fusion companies and big corporates, such as Commonwealth Fusion Systems signing an agreement with Italian energy company Eni, and Tokamak Energy and Sumitomo Corporation signing a collaboration agreement to accelerate industrialisation of fusion energy. Plus, we’ve seen international partnerships, such as the US and UK partnership to accelerate global fusion energy development.

All this progress has been built on the foundation of scientific research that has been done by public labs for decades and which has culminated in the advances we were about to hear about next--the record results from JET, the construction of ITER in southern France, and the NIF ignition results.

Tammy Ma taking about ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF)

We were then treated to three excellent presentations from industry experts.
Fernanda Rimini, from the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), spoke about the inner workings of the Joint European Torus (JET) and the recent experiments using deuterium and tritium fuel.

Pietro Barabaschi, the Director of the ITER Organisation, spoke about this monumental international fusion project and the scientific challenges that come with it.

Tammy Ma, a plasma physicist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), spoke about the ongoing experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF).
It was an inspiring evening reflecting on the achievements with open and honest discussions of the challenges ahead to bring nuclear fusion to commercialisation. It won’t be easy, but it’s an exciting time.

A close-up of the NIF target.

Fusion energy is coming. The fusion industry is growing. Can you afford not to be informed?

Subscribe to our free fusion newsletter.

Get all the insights and access to the FEI community by becoming a member of Fusion Energy Insights today.