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World’s fusion energy community gathers in Oxford

The UK and Oxford will become the epicentre of the global fusion community this week as hundreds of scientists and engineers gather to progress fusion energy powerplant development.

IEEE SOFE 2023 is taking place in the UK for the first time – only the second time the event has been hosted outside of the US – and has record attendance for its 30th year with over 700 delegates from 26 countries hosted by United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).

Fusion energy could be transformative for energy security and climate change but achieving this involves working at the forefront of science, engineering, and technology.

Speaking ahead of today’s opening ceremony, Dr Heather Lewtas, Chair of SOFE 2023 and UKAEA’s Head of Innovation, said:

“It is an extremely exciting time for fusion energy in the UK and internationally. SOFE 2023 provides an important platform where technical conversations between public and private fusion organisations can take place alongside the supply chain and academia. There has already been fantastic development in our field, but it will be the strength of our global community that will make fusion energy part of the world’s future power supply.”

Hosted at Examination Schools, University of Oxford, the SOFE 2023 programme includes:

  • STEP – UK prototype fusion energy powerplant: UKAEA’s Director of STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), Paul Methven, will outline the programme’s progression and onwards journey.
  • Women in Fusion evening event: Gabriela Hearst, Creative Director of Chloé, will discuss her experiences from COP27 and why she’s using her fashion platform to campaign for climate change and fusion energy (live streamed on Instagram).
  • Fusion companies panel discussion: organisations from across the world will describe ambitious plans to bring fusion to the grid, including Tokamak Energy, General Fusion, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Hellion and TAE.
  • International panel discussion: representatives from Europe, US, Japan, China and South Korea, will discuss national fusion powerplant initiatives.

Jason Dreisbach, Head of Advanced Energy Technologies at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, said: “The UK is at the forefront of fusion development and Atkins is proud to be a sponsor of SOFE as it welcomes the international fusion community to the UK. The technological progress made in recent years means that SOFE has come at the perfect time to focus attention on commercialisation and the need to shift from theory towards engineering the science of fusion.”

Taka Nagao, Co-Founder and CEO of Kyoto Fusioneering, added: “Kyoto Fusioneering is proud to sponsor the 30th IEEE SOFE 2023. The journey to commercial fusion relies on collaborations, partnerships, and resource mobilisation. Hosted by UKAEA, SOFE 2023 unites a diverse community, including budding fusioneers, world-leading experts, representatives from academia and industry, and individuals from both the public and private sectors. This conference serves as a vibrant hub for knowledge sharing, fostering collaboration, and cultivating new ideas. We look forward to engaging with fellow participants who share our mission to realise a sustainable and prosperous future driven by fusion energy.”

Delegates have also been provided with a unique opportunity to visit UKAEA’s Culham Campus, home of record-breaking fusion energy machine, JET (Joint European Torus) in addition to MAST-Upgrade (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak), Materials Research Facility and robotics division RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments).

IEEE SOFE 2023, hosted by UKAEA, is taking place from 9 – 13 July. Look out for conference highlights on UKAEA’s social channels and visit for details of speakers and the conference programme.

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