Research & Development

UK / Government Establishes Company To Develop Fusion Prototype Plant

By Kamen Kraev
6 February 2023

Aim is to deploy first facility by 2040

Government Establishes Company To Develop Fusion Prototype Plant
A mockup of a proposed fusion power plant under the STEP programme. Image courtesy UK government.

The UK government has established a new company, UK Industrial Fusion Solutions (UNIFS), to work on delivering the country’s first prototype nuclear fusion power plant, a statement by the UK ministry of science said.

The statement said a prototype plant at West Burton in Nottinghamshire is earmarked for completion by 2040. Such a plant is to make use of “near limitless low-carbon energy” by copying the fusion processes that power the sun and stars where atoms are fused to release energy.

The move is part of the UK government’s Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, or Step, programme which aims to build a prototype fusion plant in the UK and pave the way to commercial fusion.

Recently five locations were shortlisted within the Step framework for possible protype deployments, including the one in Nottinghamshire.

The government is providing £220m (€246m, $265m) of funding for the first phase of Step, which will see the UK Atomic Energy Authority produce a prototype concept design by 2024.

In December 2022, Researchers at the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California announced on that fusion experiments had released more energy than was pumped in by the lab’s enormous, high-powered lasers, a landmark achievement known as ignition or energy gain.

The technology is far from ready to turn into viable power plants but scientists hailed the breakthrough as evidence that the power of the stars can be harnessed on Earth.

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