The UK Government has committed to continue funding its share in Joint European Torus (JET) project, Europe’s flagship nuclear fusion research facility, located in the country.
The government stated that will continue to meet its fair share of funding for the project until the end of 2020. The payment is assured, provided the European Union (EU) extends the UK’s contract to host the Oxfordshire-based facility. The announcement comes at a time when the UK is preparing to leave the EU.
The move is part of the government’s ambition to be the go-to place for scientists and innovators across the world and to secure a fair share of research, after UK’s exit from the EU.
The JET project is considered to be the largest and the most advanced nuclear fusion reactor and has been at the helm to develop a clean and safer source of energy. The project supports 1300 jobs in the country, out of which 600 are highly skilled scientists and engineers.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) manages the JET project on behalf of the UK government’s contract and it is due to end in next December.
As part of the contract, the EU currently provides around £60m of funding per year, which is about 88% of JET’s running costs. The country’s commitment to continue to fund the facility will apply, if the EU approves UK’s extension of the contract to host the facility till 2020.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “JET is a prized facility at the centre of the UK’s global leadership in nuclear fusion research, which is why the government is taking every possible step to secure its future and to maintain highly-skilled jobs in the UK.
“Combined with our Industrial Strategy and investment of £4.7 billion for research and development, today’s funding commitment highlights the importance we place on this partnership and our desire for this valuable work to continue uninterrupted.
UKAEA CEO Professor Ian Chapman said: “International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the largest scientific endeavour mankind has ever undertaken and JET is undoubtedly the best place in the world to prepare for ITER’s successful operation.
“UKAEA are pleased that the UK Government is committed to exploiting JET as we prepare to break fusion records in the next few years.”