New £22m fusion energy research facility to open in Yorkshire

The UK Atomic Energy Agency will work with industrial partners to put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion as a major source of low carbon electricity

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A new £22 million research facility for fusion energy is to be opened in Rotherham, Yorkshire next year.

The UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) will work with industrial partners to put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion as a major source of low carbon electricity.

It will be located at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, where Rolls-Royce, McLaren Automotive, BAE Systems, Boeing and Airbus as well as the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) are already based.

The facility’s key role will be to develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components, for example, novel metals and ceramics, which will then be tested and evaluated under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor.

The site, expected to create 40 highly skilled jobs, will be funded as part of the government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through BEIS and an additional £2 million of investment will be provided through Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund.

The UKAEA says it will help UK businesses win contracts as part of ITER – the key international fusion project being built in the south of France and in the future, it will enable technology development for the first nuclear fusion power plants, which are currently being designed.

Colin Walters, Director of the National Fusion Technology Platform at UKAEA, said: “Momentum is growing in fusion research and we believe the opening of this facility in South Yorkshire represents a practical step towards developing power plants.

“This facility will provide fantastic opportunities for UK businesses to win contracts and put UKAEA in a great position to help deliver the necessary expertise for the first nuclear fusion power stations.”

Oxford-based start-up First Light Fusion believes gas will no longer be needed in the UK’s energy mix by the 2030s as it will be replaced with fusion energy.

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