Prime Minister hails ‘world-leading’ fusion research at Culham

Photo Show: PM Boris Johnson at the MAST Upgrade fusion experiment with UKAEA staff: Nanna Heiberg, Stephanie Hall & Matthew Carr.
Boris at UKAEA, Culham

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) at Culham Science Centre to make his first major science policy announcement since taking office.

The visit marked a Government announcement on plans to develop a new fast-track visa route for the brightest and best scientists to continue to move to the UK after EU Exit.

During his visit, the Prime Minister was shown the work UKAEA is doing to harness the huge potential of nuclear fusion as a low-carbon energy source. This included the new MAST Upgrade fusion experiment, which is researching a compact design for future fusion power stations.

He also toured Culham’s Materials Research Facility to see its cutting-edge research into materials for nuclear reactors. As well as talking to those working at the facility, the Prime Minister controlled the manipulators which remotely handle materials samples.

The Prime Minister spoke with some of UKAEA’s apprentices about their careers and about the plans for a new £12M apprentice training centre, Oxfordshire Advanced Skills, opening in September at Culham.

He then visited UKAEA’s robotics centre, RACE, to see how the latest research is helping UK industry compete in the fast-growing robotics sector.

Mr Johnson said afterwards: “It was fantastic to visit Culham Science Centre today and meet the men and women who are helping to invent a sustainable fusion reactor.

“The UK is leading the world in this sector, thanks in significant part to the work of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. I’m confident that with the help of the immigration reforms I have announced today, we will continue to do so for many years to come.”

Ian Chapman, UKAEA CEO, said: “We were delighted that the Prime Minister chose Culham as the place to make his first science announcement.

“Fusion energy’s huge potential is well known and the PM reiterated the Government’s support for UKAEA’s research. We also showed him how the Materials Research Facility and RACE are providing spillover benefits and supporting UK industry in adjacent fields, at the same time as working towards delivering sustainable fusion energy.”

RACE Director Rob Buckingham added: “Talking to the PM today I could see he’s an enthusiast for science. He wants the UK to be bold – and what could be bolder than taking on the challenge of delivering fusion to address climate change.”