August 11-12, 2020
Virtual/WebEx Events

ARPA-E's Breakthroughs Enabling THermonuclear-fusion Energy (BETHE) program is kicking off!  All or nearly all BETHE projects are expected to be under contract by the time of this kick-off virtual workshop.  The goal of this workshop is to introduce the BETHE project teams and to focus everyone’s thinking on the program objectives, with the help of some invited perspectives from outside the fusion R&D community.

BETHE aims to support the development of timely, commercially viable fusion energy. Building on recent progress in fusion research and synergies with the private fusion industry, this program aims to deliver a larger number of higher-maturity, lower-cost fusion options via three research categories: (A) Concept Development to advance the performance of inherently lower-cost but less-mature fusion concepts; (B) Component Technology Development to  significantly reduce the capital cost of higher-cost, more-mature fusion concepts; and (C) Capability Teams to improve/adapt and apply existing capabilities (e.g., theory/modeling, machine learning, or diagnostics) to accelerate the development of multiple concepts. BETHE's technology-to-market (T2M) component aims to build and smooth the path to fusion commercialization to include public, private, and philanthropic partnerships.


Controlled fusion has long been thought of as an ideal energy source--safe, clean, and abundant. Based on numerous studies examining the cost challenges facing advanced nuclear energy--which shares unit size, capital cost, and power-generation attributes with fusion--ARPA-E believes that a commercial fusion power plant should target an overnight capital cost of <US$2B and <$5/W. If a grid-ready fusion demonstration can be realized within approximately 20 years while satisfying these cost metrics, then fusion can contribute to meeting growing global, low-carbon energy demand and achieving cost-effective deep decarbonization in the latter half of this century. ARPA-E's first fusion program, ALPHA, focused on developing potentially transformative fusion concepts and related technologies (i.e., pulsed, intermediate-density fusion concepts) that could significantly lower the costs of fusion development and eventual deployment. Today, a growing number of privately funded fusion companies are pursuing these and other approaches that potentially offer reduced cost, size, complexity, and generation capacity. However, it is difficult for lower-cost fusion concept developers to secure enough funding to meet performance milestones, much less realize a grid-ready fusion demonstration. This unsustainable situation for lower-cost fusion concept development is a strong motivator for the BETHE program.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

1:00 - 1:05 PM Welcome from ARPA-E leadership (Dr. Patrick McGrath, Deputy Director for Technology)
1:05 - 1:15 PM Workshop overview (Dr. Scott Hsu, Program Director 7+3)
1:15 - 2:00 PM

Investor perspectives on fusion energy (panel discussion)

Malcolm Handley, T2M Consultant (moderator)

Carly Anderson, Prime Movers Lab

Clay Dumas, Lowercase Capital

Bogdan Gagea, BP

Timothy Krysiek, Equinor

Matthew Nordan, Prime Coalition
2:00 - 2:05 PM Break/Buffer
2:05 - 3:05 PM

Category A project overviews (PIs, 7+3 minutes each, 6 teams)

University of Wisconsin; Zap Energy; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; NK Labs; University of Washington; Los Alamos National Laboratory
3:05 - 3:15 PM Category A Q&A/Buffer
3:15 - 3:20 PM


3:20 - 4:05 PM

Advocacy and social acceptance for fusion energy (panel discussion)

Jane Hotchkiss, Pegasus Fusion Strategies (moderator)

Brad Campbell, Conservation Law Foundation

Niko McMurray, Clearpath

Dr. Addison Stark, Bipartisan Policy Center

Ann Weeks, Clean Air Task Force
4:05 - 4:10 PM Break/Buffer
4:10 - 5:10 PM

Category B project overviews (PIs, 7+3 minutes each, 6 teams)

Commonwealth Fusion Systems; Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; Type One Energy; Laboratory for Laser Energetics (Goncharov); Naval Research Laboratory (Obenschain); Laboratory for Laser Energetics (Dorrer)
5:10 - 5:20 PM Category B Q&A/buffer
5:20 PM Adjourn Day 1


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

1:00 - 1:05 PM Day 2 welcome (Scott Hsu) and brief introduction to the Fusion Industry Association (Andrew Holland, Executive Director of the FIA)
1:05 - 1:30 PM Initial results of fusion market study (Malcolm Handley, 20+5)
1:30 - 1:50 PM Barriers to fusion commercialization (Dr. Richard Pearson, 15+5)
1:50 - 2:10 PM Q&A with Professor Troy Carter (UCLA, FESAC subcommittee chair), Dr. Dennis Youchison (ORNL, INFUSE director), and Dr. Sam Barish (DOE Fusion Energy Sciences)
2:10 - 2:20 PM Break/Buffer
2:20 - 3:20 PM

Category C project overviews (PIs, 7+3 minutes each, 6 teams)

Virginia Tech; Sapientai; Laboratory for Laser Energetics (Tzeferacos); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Los Alamos National LaboratoryOak Ridge National Laboratory

3:20 - 3:30 PM Category C Q&A/buffer
3:30 - 3:35 PM Break/Buffer
3:35 - 3:55 PM Fusion-power-plant costing study/capability (Dr. Simon Woodruff, WSI, 15+5)
3:55 - 4:15 PM Utilities owner/operator perspective (Dr. Andrew Sowder, EPRI, 15+5)
4:15 - 4:35 PM How to stay out of trouble with the media (Kevin Fitzmaurice, ARPA-E Communications Team, 10+5)
4:35 - 4:50 PM Open discussion and feedback to ARPA-E (all)
4:50 - 5:00 PM Recruitment pitch and closing remarks (Dr. Scott Hsu)
5:00 PM Adjourn Day 2