The funding will allow engineers and scientists to produce a conceptual design of a fusion reactor, known as Tokamak

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Image: The funding will be used for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project. Photo courtesy of fancycrave1 from Pixabay.

The UK government has announced a £220m ($270m) in funding for the development of a commercially viable nuclear fusion power station by 2040.

The funding will be used for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project for the conceptual design of a fusion power station. The project is expected to create 300 jobs directly.

It will allow engineers and scientists to produce a conceptual design of a fusion reactor, known as Tokamak, which will pave the way for a potential fusion power station.

UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom said: “This is a bold and ambitious investment in the energy technology of the future. Nuclear fusion has the potential to be an unlimited clean, safe and carbon-free energy source and we want the first commercially viable machine to be in the U.K.

“This long-term investment will build on the UK’s scientific leadership, driving advancements in materials science, plasma physics and robotics to support new hi-tech jobs and exports.”

Tokamak will generate fusion energy and convert it into electricity

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) will work together with partners from industry and academia to complete the design of the Tokamak, which will generate fusion energy and convert it into electricity, by 2024.

UK Atomic Energy Authority CEO Ian Chapman said: “The UK has a proud heritage of pioneering developments in fusion research. This announcement demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to translating that R&D leadership into a working fusion reactor.

“We are excited to work with our partners to take the next step towards a fusion-powered future.”

The STEP programme builds on UKAEA’s expertise in developing spherical tokamaks, which are compact and efficient fusion devices that offer an economical route to commercial fusion power.

The new MAST Upgrade spherical tokamak experiment, which is expected to play a role in the STEP design, is scheduled to commence early in 2020 at the UKAEA’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

Oxford-based start-up First Light Fusion founder Nick Hawker said: “Even with the maximum possible roll-out of existing renewables technology, which we should continue to pursue, there will be a gap to meet our 2050 zero carbon targets.

“Power demand will boom in the next two decades and we will need new sources of clean power generation.

“Fusion has the potential to be significantly cheaper than other clean baseload options and we are delighted it is being considered by policy-makers and investors as a climate change mitigation accelerator.”