Prime Minister Rishi Sunak chose UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham campus as the location to announce the Government’s new multi-billion-pound green energy measures today.
The PM was joined at Culham by Secretary of State for Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps, to unveil ‘Powering Up Britain’, the UK’s new energy security plan.
And they left impressed by the research we are doing at UKAEA to make fusion part of our sustainable energy future. Mr Sunak said we were an example of a field where the UK leads the world, in line with his plans to make Britain a science superpower. During media interviews on the energy plan at the RACE robotics centre, Mr Shapps called fusion a ‘massive opportunity’ for almost endless energy.
The two Ministers were met at JET by UKAEA Chair Professor David Gann CBE and CEO Professor Sir Ian Chapman, who outlined the incredible potential of fusion energy.
The group heard from EUROfusion Senior Exploitation Manager Fernanda Rimini on JET’s record-breaking fusion results, and from RACE Director Rob Buckingham on our innovative use of remote handling maintenance technology; with a chance to meet SPOT, the Boston Dynamics robotic dog.
It was then over to Oxfordshire Advanced Skills to meet Emma Johnstone (OAS Operations Manager) and Tim Bestwick (UKAEA’s Chief Technology Officer & Director of Strategy, Communications & Business Development), who told them about the importance of skills training and the great work that OAS is doing to develop the next generation of hi-tech specialists. While at OAS, apprentices Holly, Zack, Luke, Ryan and Sanni, met the two politicians and gave them a flavour of the training carried out by centre managers MTC.
When asked about his experience of meeting the PM, UKAEA apprentice Luke said: “It was a great experience meeting the Prime Minister. We were all starstruck, but he was really engaged and genuinely interested in our work.
The final stop on the tour was MAST Upgrade, where both saw the tokamak up close and recorded videos for social media. They also got an overview of the STEP powerplant programme from director Paul Methven.
The new Government energy security strategy includes proposals to invest in offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture, as well as launching Great British Nuclear – a new body to spearhead deployment of the next generation of nuclear reactors.
Fusion is very much part of the long-term strategy in the energy security plan, which refers to it as potentially ‘the ultimate clean power solution’ with the UK as ‘a recognised global leader’.
Ian Chapman, UKAEA CEO, said: “It was an honour to host both the Prime Minister and our own Secretary of State, and a golden opportunity to highlight our work and why we think fusion is worth investing in.
“It shows how far we – and fusion – have come that the Government decided that Culham was the ideal place to launch their ambitious future energy plan.”