Culham to be global fusion hub in £184M transformation

Culham Science Centre is set to become a key part of the global quest for clean energy after the Government announced an £184 million investment to upgrade the site.

Building on UKAEA’s experience in running the UK fusion programme and hosting JET, with this new funding from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Culham is on track to be at the heart of a world-leading fusion cluster, in which national labs, companies and universities work together on the big challenges of delivering fusion energy.

The funding will develop and upgrade the facilities at Culham and enable new apprentice training programmes. It will upgrade buildings and IT infrastructure, including a new innovation centre, an expanded robotics test facility and accommodation for commercial fusion companies. The intention is to create an environment in which innovation and collaboration between UKAEA’s national programmes and companies will thrive. UKAEA will provide access to the specialist facilities at Culham for fusion businesses and academic researchers to use – enabling access to capabilities not easily found anywhere else.

Tim Bestwick, Director of Business & Innovation at UKAEA, added:

“Being part of such a vital quest to deliver zero carbon energy, and building on all the talent and capability we already have to deliver a global fusion energy campus, represents a quite extraordinary opportunity.”

The enhanced apprentice training programme will be delivered through the Oxfordshire Advanced Skills partnership led by UKAEA, which has been training technicians for companies in the Thames Valley since 2016. As well as expanding the facility at Culham, OAS will add training for apprentices in the space sector as part of the rapidly growing Space Cluster at Harwell. This news follows the recent £220 million Government investment in UKAEA’s STEP project, which aims to accelerate fusion development by producing the concept design for a commercially viable fusion powerplant. This STEP project will be another major part of the future of the Culham and the UK’s fusion energy cluster.