The Nuclear AMRC has welcomed a new £22 million fusion energy research facility to be built at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.
The facility will see the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) working with industrial partners to put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion as a major source of low-carbon electricity.
Located at the heart of the UK’s advanced manufacturing region, the UKAEA base will bring 40 highly-skilled jobs to South Yorkshire. It will foster increased collaboration with research organisations including the Nuclear AMRC and its sister centre, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), both of which are based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
Andrew Storer, Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “We’re delighted to welcome UKAEA to the Advanced Manufacturing Park, and to the Sheffield region’s world-leading cluster of applied innovation. We look forward to working with UKAEA at their new facility to develop manufacturing techniques for fusion power plants and help UK manufacturers win work in this growing global market.
“This development has the potential to create many jobs in the local supply chain as fusion technology matures. This is a huge deal for Sheffield and the North, and we are really pleased to have played a part in this and to be working with UKAEA.”
When it opens in autumn 2020, the 2,500 sq m facility will develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components, including novel metals and ceramics. These will then be tested and evaluated under the conditions experienced inside of a fusion reactor including high heat flux, vacuum and strong magnetic fields.
The development will help UK companies win contracts as part of Iter, the international fusion project being built in the south of France. Further ahead, it will enable technology development for the first nuclear fusion power plants which are now being designed.
The facility will require regular supplies of specialist metals and materials, providing further opportunities for UK companies.
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.”
The facility is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as part of the Nuclear Sector Deal launched last year. An additional £2 million of investment is coming from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund.
Dan Jarvis MP, Mayor for the Sheffield City Region, said: “The Sheffield City Region is a growing hub of innovation, expertise, and knowledge. These qualities are among the reasons why the UKAEA have chosen to open a new facility in Rotherham, supported by Local Growth funding from the Sheffield City Region.
“As well as creating new skilled jobs and opportunities for collaboration with the nearby research centres, this facility will create opportunities for other businesses as specialist suppliers, boosting the region’s economy and highlighting our world-leading specialisms in advanced manufacturing.”
Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, added: “This is a hugely significant and transformative announcement for our city, region and the north of England. Researchers at the University and our Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre are looking forward to working with UKAEA on cutting edge research into fusion energy – a potentially world-changing future source of low-carbon electricity, which could be critical in responding to the climate emergency.”
The UKAEA facility will also complement the University of Sheffield’s new Energy Institute, which brings together capabilities from across the university to develop an affordable and clean energy future that is safe, secure and sustainable.