Government commits to nuclear fusion design

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The government has announced that it is committing to £220 million of support for the ‘conceptual design of a fusion power station’ with a reactor design known as a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production or STEP.

The announcement was made by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Andrea Leadsom, during a recent visit to UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Science Centre headquarters in Culham, Oxfordshire.

Carbon-free power

The STEP design project is for a commercially viable nuclear fusion power plant, generating energy from fusion and converting it into electricity. The technology has the potential to produce large amounts of carbon-free electricity, with a ‘realistic prospect’ of constructing a plant by 2040.

Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “This is a bold and ambitious investment in the energy technology of the future. Nuclear fusion has the potential to be an unlimited clean, safe and carbon-free energy source and we want the first commercially viable machine to be in the U.K.

“This long-term investment will build on the UK’s scientific leadership, driving advancements in materials science, plasma physics and robotics to support new hi-tech jobs and exports.”

Energy expert view

“The goal of unlimited, clean, safe and carbon-free energy is a panacea worth putting significant effort into given the climate change issue we are facing, and we have been doing so for some considerable time.

“A workable potentially commercial design for a nuclear fusion based reactor producing electricity would certainly be a major step forward for the technology.” Alastair Fells MEI, Incorporated Eng, PG Dip Fuel Tech, BSc Hons

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