UK and US Forge Groundbreaking Fusion Technology Partnership

The US and the UK announced a crucial partnership to advance fusion technology on Wednesday, November 8, marking a momentous occasion.

UK and US Forge Groundbreaking Fusion Technology Partnership

The US and the UK announced a crucial partnership to advance fusion technology on Wednesday, November 8, marking a momentous occasion.

The accord, solidified in Washington DC by the UK’s Minister for Nuclear and Networks, Andrew Bowie, and US Deputy Secretary Turk at the Department of Energy, marks a significant stride in the nations’ energy cooperation and signals a beacon for global collaboration, crucial for the progression of this burgeoning technology.

Fusion, a process involving the fusion of two forms of hydrogen heated to extreme temperatures, holds the potential to unleash boundless reserves of clean electricity over the long haul. This monumental breakthrough promises to revolutionize worldwide endeavors towards achieving net-zero emissions and securing energy independence.

As the government works towards constructing a more diversified and robust energy portfolio, destined to reduce long-term energy costs, this cutting-edge technology will necessitate a proficient workforce, bolstering well-remunerated employment opportunities while stimulating economic growth.

The energy produced through fusion is millions of times more efficient than the burning of traditional fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or gas, offering the promise of an almost boundless supply of clean energy—a game-changer in the global race towards sustainable power sources.

This monumental partnership stands as the UK’s initial formal international fusion collaboration since the inception of the £650 million Fusion Futures Programme, an initiative aimed at keeping the UK at the vanguard of innovation, replete with training prospects and dedicated funding for fusion enterprises. This is in addition to the £700 million already earmarked for UK fusion energy initiatives spanning from 2022 to 2025.

From the MAST-U tokamak in Oxfordshire to the DIII-D tokamak in California, British and American institutions have shared a long history of collaboration in fusion research. This fresh alliance expands upon the UK’s existing Fusion Strategy and will:

  • Unite scientists and engineers from both the UK and US to tackle the technical hurdles in realizing commercially viable fusion energy.
  • Enable shared access to facilities, fostering new avenues for research and development.
  • Establish international regulatory frameworks and best practices.
  • Cultivate robust supply chains for fusion materials to sustain the industry in the long term.
    Foster skills development to cultivate a resilient talent pool over the next decade.

Andrew Bowie, the Minister for Nuclear and Networks, emphasized, “International collaboration is key for advancing fusion and achieving our ambition of getting a commercial fusion reactor grid-ready by 2040. The UK and the US are world-leaders in this technology, and pooling our resources will unlock new private sector investment. This bold new partnership will help turn our fusion ambitions into reality.”

During the visit, Minister Bowie will also tour the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a historic hub of ‘fusion firsts’ in fusion research, engaging with Sir Steve Cowley to explore avenues for ongoing collaboration between laboratories in the UK and the US on research and tokamak performance.

US Deputy Secretary Turk at the Department of Energy echoed the sentiment, stating, “The United States and the United Kingdom have long partnered on some of the world’s most ambitious scientific endeavors. I look forward to welcoming Minister Bowie to Washington to build on that partnership to advance fusion energy that could ultimately help us achieve our countries’ shared goal of ending the climate crisis.”

A coordinating committee, jointly led by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the US Department of Energy, will convene for the first time in early 2024. Comprising representatives from national laboratories, academia, and industry, the committee is tasked with propelling a shared vision for fusion technology.

This groundbreaking partnership to advance fusion technology underscores the unparalleled and robust alliance between these two nations on matters of global significance. It follows a joint declaration earlier this year—the Atlantic Declaration—outlining the blueprint for a 21st-century US-UK Economic Partnership.