Nuclear fusion contributes £84m to UK economy, says report

19 April 2016 (Last Updated April 19th, 2016 18:30)

A report from Tokamak Energy revealed that nuclear fusion contributes nearly £84m to the UK economy every year.

A report from Tokamak Energy revealed that nuclear fusion contributes nearly £84m to the UK economy every year.

The report, 'An Impact Study of the Fusion Energy Research Cluster in Oxfordshire', stated that at least £300m is generated in exports as a result of research and development in the fusion energy field.

Figures released by the study show that nearly 1,000 people are employed in fusion energy research in Oxfordshire, and a further 800 suppliers rely on fusion energy research. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) carries out such research in the country, on behalf of the government and the EU, at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).

Nuclear fusion releases clean energy, with no CO2 emissions, without generating long-lived radioactive waste. Fusion creates energy by joining together small atomic nuclei, rather than splitting them. It is the opposite of nuclear fission, in which a large nucleus is split into two smaller nuclei with the release of energy.

"Fusion energy is already creating a booming economy that benefits the UK, and yet further establishes us as global leaders in scientific R&D"

Tokamak Energy CEO Dr David Kingham said: "Billions are set to be invested into private fusion energy research in the US and Canada, and into large international facilities in Europe, but the unique cluster of capabilities in Oxfordshire gives us a clear competitive advantage.

"The combination of local expertise in tokamak fusion, cryogenics and high-field superconducting magnets is unbeatable. Oxfordshire can play a key role in winning the fusion energy race, and as a result enjoy massive economic bene?ts in the future.

"But by simply being a part of this race, fusion energy is already creating a booming economy that benefits the UK, and yet further establishes us as global leaders in scientific R&D."

The Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham is said to be the powerful fusion reactor in the world. It holds the world record for most power ever generated from a fusion reactor at 16MW.

UK-based Tokamak Energy currently spends more than £4m every year on fusion research and development. A portion of this is used in the development of longer-term fusion power devices, while the remainder is used in the development of high-temperature superconducting magnets and the construction of new high-field spherical tokamak.