Eighteen organisations have secured contracts with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to demonstrate how their innovative technologies and proposed solutions can help make fusion energy a commercial reality. The organisations will focus on overcoming specific technical and physical challenges.
The contracts – feasibility studies from £50,000 up to £200,000 – are funded by the UKAEA’s ‘Fusion Industry Programme’ and awarded through the UK Government platform ‘Small Business Research Initiative’. The latest contracts are the second part of the Fusion Industry Programme, following the first cycle of the Fusion Industry Programme in 2021.
The projects aim to tackle specific challenges linked to the commercialisation of fusion energy, from novel fusion materials and manufacturing techniques through to innovative heating and cooling systems, all needed for future fusion powerplants.
Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “In the past 12 months we have seen significant advances both in the UK and globally that demonstrate the potential for fusion energy to be a safe, low-carbon and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply. However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address for fusion energy to realise its potential. The Fusion Industry Programme is helping engage organisations and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and address these important challenges.”
The Fusion Industry Programme is part of the Government’s £484 million support package for UK research, announced last year. The Programme was allocated £42.1 million as part of this package to stimulate innovation and to accelerate the development of the fusion industry.
Contracts have been awarded to start-ups, small-medium enterprises, established companies, and academia, with six of the eighteen organisations receiving funding through the Fusion Industry Programme for the first time (see below for the full list).
As a growing industry, knowledge transfer from other technical and engineering sectors is vitally important to the fusion industry. Collaborating with wider industry allows a collective approach to tackling climate change issues and faster access to energy security.
The Fusion Industry Programme was launched in 2021 to drive long-term economic growth by developing technology and skills that can both support domestic programmes and be exported globally.
Fusion energy is sometimes described as the ultimate energy source, based on the same processes that power the sun and stars. It has the potential to provide ‘baseload’ power, complementing renewable and other low carbon energy sources.
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