The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Canada-based General Fusion have announced an agreement under which General Fusion will build and operate its Fusion Demonstration Plant (FDP) at UKAEA’s Culham campus in Oxfordshire.
General Fusion will enter into a long-term lease with UKAEA following the construction of a new facility in Culham to house the FDP.The FDP will demonstrate General Fusion’s patented Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) technology, paving the way for the company’s next commercial pilot plant. General Fusion will benefit from the UK fusion supply chain activities group, focused on UKAEA’s globally recognised expertise and presence in the field, according to a statement.
Amanda Solloway, UK Government Science Minister, said: “This new General Fusion plant is a huge boost to our plans to develop a fusion industry in the UK, and I am delighted that Culham is home to such an innovative industry and potentially transformative project. Fusion energy has great potential as an unlimited source of low-carbon energy, and today’s announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the region and in the UK’s status as a global scientific superpower.” Fusion’s demonstration plant in Culham is the culmination of more than a decade of advances in General Fusion technology and represents an important milestone on the company’s path to commercialization, General Fusion said.
The fusion demonstration plant will verify that General Fusion’s MTF technology can create fusion conditions in a practical and cost-effective way at relevant scales of the power plant, as well as refine the economics of fusion energy production, leading to the subsequent design of a commercial fusion pilot plant. Construction is projected to begin in 2022, with operations beginning approximately three years later.
Commercial details of the project have not been published, however, several media outlets have reported that the development will cost around $400 million (£287 million). In its latest funding round, General Fusion raised $100 million. Jeff Bezos has invested in the company during several funding rounds over the past 10 years.
General Fusion and UKAEA intend to collaborate on a range of fusion energy technologies for the design and operation of power plants. “Coming to Culham gives us the opportunity to benefit from UKAEA’s expertise,” said Christofer Mowry, CEO of General Fusion.
“By locating on this campus, General Fusion expands our market presence beyond North America into Europe, expanding our global network of government, institutional and industrial partners. This is incredibly exciting news, not only for General Fusion, but also for the global effort to develop practical fusion energy.
“The Culham campus, home to the UK’s national fusion research program, is owned and managed by UKAEA, widely recognised as a global leader in fusion energy development and innovation.
“This is a breakthrough for UKAEA, very much in line with our mission to lead the development of sustainable fusion energy, and builds on our long tradition of hosting major fusion facilities such as the Joint European Torus,” said Ian Chapman, CEO of UKAEA.