Chester and North Wales (UK)

Fusion Energy’s Apollo – How STEP Plans to Stimulate a New Industry for a New Technology

Fusion Energy’s Apollo – How STEP Plans to Stimulate a New Industry for a New Technology
  • Date From 8th January 2024
  • Date To 8th January 2024
  • Price Free of charge, open to all.
  • Location Lecture Theatre CBK011, Binks Building, Exton Park, University of Chester, CH1 4BJ.


Demonstrating a new source of energy is a once in a generation endeavour. Stimulating an entirely new industrial sector is a once in a generational challenge. STEP aims to do both, the second achieved through practical focus on the first. STEP is necessarily ambitious, even audacious, but the confluence of need (addressing global energy demands and energy security well beyond 2050) and the opportunity for the UK to lead in the commercialisation of this strategic technology require a bold approach. Arguably, few if any current global endeavours match this scale of challenge, it is necessary to look back to the 1950s and the Apollo programme to find meaningful parallels that combine the facets of uncertainty, technical challenge, urgent and universal demand and the need to commercialise the outcome.

This talk will describe how the STEP programme aims to deliver on its ambition. It will cover how all aspects of the programme are being developed coherently to be able to manage the inherent complexity and scale of delivery in the context of immense technical and programmatic uncertainty, covering inter alia: overall strategy, technical aims and design philosophy, delivery model, industrial engagement and commercial approach, and organisation design. The talk will illustrate that the heart of the problem is securing and organising the right collective capability and evolving ahead of each major phase.


Paul Methven, Chief Executive Officer, UK Industrial Fusion Solutions Ltd (UKIFS)

Paul will deliver a 45 minute seminar, introducing the STEP programme, which is run by UKAEA to demonstrate the ability to generate electricity from nuclear fusion. Paul will explain the challenges and ambition of the STEP programme, as well as its design philosophy and industrial engagement. A Q&A Session will follow, which can include questions about career prospects. This is part of the Physics Student Seminar Series of the University of Chester, and is organised by 2nd-year students Thisanda Guruge and Charlie Cooper, supervised by Dr Theodoros Papadopoulos.

Prior to taking the helm of UKIFS, Paul spent three years as Director of STEP at UKAEA where he took the programme from its initial formation to a major programme on the Government's projects portfolio with a delivery model defined, a site chosen, and a concept plant design developed. Paul joined the fusion word after a long career in the Royal Navy, culminating in appointment as Director Submarines Acquisition where he was responsible for design and procurement of all UK submarines.

Born on the Isle of Skye, he joined the Royal Navy in 1988. His early career was a mix of operational tours in seagoing submarines and shore based roles in engineering support and procurement. His later career focussed on complex programme leadership, couples with a sting in strategy and performance management on behalf of the Defence Board. Over recent years he was the MOD programme Director for the Type 26 Global Combat Shit and Offshore Patrol Vessel projects, led work on the National Shipbuilding Strategy and, as Director Submarines Acquisition in the rang of Read Admiral, was the Director responsible for the Astute Class submarine build programme, the SSN Replacement design programme and the Dreadnought programme, the UK's second largest major programme after HS2.


18:15–19:15 GMT.

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