Ministry of Defence mandarin Paul Methven is the first CEO of UK Industrial Fusion Solutions (UKIFS), responsible for the delivery of STEP – a prototype fusion energy plant to be built at West Burton, Nottinghamshire, close to EdF’s 1.2MW gas-fired power station.
Nuclear minister Andrew Bowie MP confirmed Methven’s elevation during a visit to West Burton. Methven is pictured left in this group.
STEP is intended to speed commercialisation of fusion energy, and its potential to foster a fleet of fusion powerplants around the world, ensuring the UK remains a global leader in the unproven technology.
Nuclear advocates say fusion energy has the potential to meet baseloads of national demand, complementing renewable & other low carbon energy sources as a share of many countries’ energy portfolios. Achieving this involves working at the forefront of science, engineering & technology.
When a mix of two forms of hydrogen are heated to extreme temperatures – 10 times hotter than the core of the sun – they fuse together to create helium and release huge amounts of energy.
Minister Bowie described STEP as “the heart of our Fusion Strategy. It’s key to making the potential of new fusion energy a commercial reality, and to drive economic growth”.
Methven joined STEP two years ago from the Ministry of Defence, where he was director of submarine acquisition at the Submarine Delivery Agency. There he directed the Dreadnought programme, second only in complexity and value to Sunak’s now scrapped HS2.
Professor David Gann CBE, Chair of UKIFS, said: “The appointment of the inaugural CEO for UKIFS marks an important milestone as we strive to generate electricity from fusion, which will provide a huge economic opportunity for the UK.
“I look forward to working closely with Paul and the STEP team to ensure the programme stimulates a vibrant industrial base alongside the development of future fusion skills and the global deployment of fusion energy.”
“Paul Methven will bring a wealth of experience, working to deliver a fusion reactor by 2040 and to cement the UK’s place at the front of the global race to develop this cutting-edge technology.”
Professor Sir Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority group, said: “STEP has the potential to be a revolutionary programme, but it is highly complex and involves great uncertainties. It needs a brilliant CEO who can manage such complex engineering programmes and grow and unite a national endeavour to deliver fusion.
“In Paul Methven, we have secured exactly that”.