Updated Oct 10, 2022

Collaboration for commercial fusion energy generation in the UK

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Tokamak Energy have signed an initial agreement on collaboration which will aim to develop spherical tokamaks to produce green energy in the UK.

A spherical tokamak is a type of device that generates electricity from fusion, created by a very powerful magnetic field which confines the plasma in a spherical shape. This technology is currently in the development stage and the new collaboration aims to deliver commercial fusion energy.

The five-year agreement will take the form of joint technology development, shared utilisation of equipment as well as facilities, and co-operation between the staff of the two organisations. The collaboration will prioritise the development of new materials and testing, power generation, fuel cycle, diagnostics and remote handling.

This announcement follows the UKAEA's STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) programme to deliver a prototype fusion energy plant, which is proposed to be built in West Burton in Nottinghamshire, hopefully by 2040.

Both organisations are in possession of operational spherical tokamak devices, with Tokamak Energy's ST40 device being able to achieve a plasma temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius, which is the threshold for commercial fusion energy. The company is also currently developing a new spherical tokamak, which will utilise high-temperature superconducting magnets.

The CEO of UKAEA, Prof Ian Chapman said:

"Fusion has great potential to deliver almost limitless clean energy for future generations. This new agreement with Tokamak Energy will benefit both organisations and help advance our collective ambitions, because together we are stronger. Fusion presents an exciting opportunity for the UK and we’re proud our ground-breaking work here continues to drive innovation and progress as part of a thriving cluster."

The CEO of Tokamak Energy, Chris Kelsall said:

"We are in a race against time to phase out the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and aim to deliver fusion as a clean, sustainable, low cost and globally available energy source. Tokamak Energy and UKAEA jointly recognise the importance of collaboration to accelerate the delivery of commercial fusion. We welcome the opportunity to progress knowledge, skill sharing and joint development opportunities with UKAEA, further boosting the UK’s world leading fusion cluster."