Oxfordshire & Glos benefit from share of £40 million nuclear funding

Tokamak Energy

Fusion power research company, Tokamak Energy, based at Milton Park in Oxfordshire and EDF Energy in Gloucester are among a number of organisations set to benefit from £40 million of government funding to help develop the country’s next generation of nuclear energy technology.

£30 million of funding will speed up the development of three advanced modular reactor (AMR) projects, including Tokamak Energy. The remaining £10 million will be invested into unlocking smaller research, design, and manufacturing projects to create up to 200 jobs.

Producing energy from nuclear fusion has long been widely regarded as the grand engineering challenge of the 21st century. Fusion has the potential to provide an always available, environmentally benign and well-distributed energy solution.  It can also provide utility-scale energy on-demand, making it an excellent complement for intermittent renewables and battery storage.

While human-engineered fusion has already been demonstrated on a small scale. The big challenge facing nuclear fusion supports is how to scale up the fusion process to commercial proportions economically. The longstanding joke among those more sceptical about successful nuclear fusion is that  it is always 20-30 years away, but that hasn’t stopped nuclear scientists across the world trying to achieve it, and governments willing to invest.

Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “Advanced modular reactors are the next step in nuclear energy and have the potential to be a crucial part of tackling carbon emissions and climate change.

“Today’s investment will immediately create new jobs in Oxfordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. But through this vital research, the technology could also create thousands more green collar jobs for decades to come.”

The government’s hope that its pump prime funding will make the technology more attractive to private sector investors and create supply chains feeding future modular reactor developments. The successful AMR projects, awarded £10 million funding each, are:

  • Tokamak Energy, Oxfordshire – working with industry partners and research establishments including Oxford University to develop fusion reactors
  • Westinghouse, Lancashire – developing a lead-cooled fast reactor, a type of fission reactor
  • U-Battery, Cheshire – working on a small high temperature gas-cooled fission reactor

The further £10 million is supporting regional projects, including £1,373,095 in EDF Energy, in Gloucester.

Recent research has shown that the UK’s entire nuclear industry could contribute £9.6 billion per annum to the economy and support 130,000 jobs by 2050, as well as creating significant export potential for AMR technology. AMRs also provide the possibility to diversify the UK’s low-carbon energy mix by producing heat for industry and zero-carbon hydrogen, and have already demonstrated the potential to stimulate private investment.