Fusion energy

Fusion energy in Oxfordshire

Fusion energy can power the world of tomorrow and companies in Oxfordshire are leading the race to make this happen.

Oxfordshire is a leading location for fusion energy research and innovation. This is an opportunity to collaborate with key research and innovation companies that can make the technological breakthroughs needed to create a clean, green 21st century.

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Location:

Oxfordshire

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment

Sector:

Civil nuclear

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Sector and market

As we look to decarbonise the world, demand for non-fossil fuel energy sources is growing.

The UK government has a ten point plan for a green industrial revolution. It aims to build a prototype commercial fusion power plant by 2040 and many investment opportunities are available in UK fusion energy R&D.

Oxfordshire, with its fusion-energy research capabilities, is the ideal soft-landing location for investors to establish a presence and demonstrate designs of commercial fusion energy plants.

Growth prospects

Oxfordshire is a global leader in fusion energy, with strengths in superconductivity, cryogenics, advanced materials, robotics and AI.

These are all significant global sectors: the market for superconducting magnets will be worth £2.7 billion by 2027 with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 2.4%. The cryogenics market will be worth £12.9 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 6.4%.

The UK also has negotiated association with the European Atomic Energy Community and continued participation in the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project. These signify potential global collaborative opportunities for companies in Oxfordshire and the UK.

Location

Oxfordshire’s efforts in developing fusion energy involve world class, publicly funded research at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, and commercial research by private companies. Key players in the region include Tokamak Energy and First Light Fusion.

Oxfordshire is also part of the UK nuclear ecosystem, with world-leading capabilities and assets in large-scale nuclear and advanced nuclear technologies, plus decommissioning and waste management.

Region Spotlight
South of England

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The region is home to 21 million people. It offers opportunities across a wide range of sectors from nuclear and aerospace, to life science and new technologies. There are vibrant clusters of expertise spanning 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

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Connectivity

Oxfordshire is close to 2 major international airports. The area is also well connected to the local and national road network, making London, Midlands and south coast seaports easy to reach.

Oxford also has 2 London rail routes, to Paddington and Marylebone stations, each taking under an hour.

Local talent and skills

Oxfordshire features:

  • 2 highly regarded universities
  • 3 research organisations dedicated to fusion
  • 2,000 direct jobs in fusion energy

Research and expertise

The region features fantastic research facilities, such as the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), operated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). The CCFE has the Joint European Torus (JET) – the world’s largest and most powerful tokamak – on behalf of its European partners, and the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) Upgrade device.

The region also has the:

  • Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) facility
  • Materials Research facility (MRF)
  • Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology Facility (H3AT)
  • Fusion Technology Facilities (FTF)

Enabling clean growth

Demand for fusion energy is being driven by the UK’s Clean Growth strategy. Fusion energy is a truly disruptive technology with the potential to provide almost limitless clean, dependable power.

To maximise the potential of fusion energy technology in the UK and around the world, the UK government is about to publish a green paper setting out its proposals on the regulation of fusion energy. This will enable the safe and rapid deployment of fusion energy power plants, promoting innovation while maintaining human and environmental protections.

Local and national government support

The UK government has pledged £184 million for new fusion facilities, infrastructure and apprenticeships at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, to create a global hub for fusion innovation.

The government has already committed more than £400 million towards new UK fusion programmes. The goal is to develop a concept design for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) – expected to be the world’s first compact fusion power plant – to be built in the UK by 2040.

Tokamak Energy

Tokamak Energy is pioneering commercial fusion energy based on compact spherical tokamaks with the latest generation of high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets.

While developing the fusion power plant of tomorrow, the company is already commercialising HTS magnet technology for other applications. The company has raised $160 million investment so far and employs more than 150.

Plans to double the workforce were recently announced.

First Light Fusion

First Light Fusion is a University of Oxford spinout and fusion energy pioneer. The company is involved in ground-breaking R&D in many areas including pulsed power, simulation, and fusion plant engineering.

The company received $25 million funding in 2020 from specialised clean tech and global institutions.

General Fusion

General Fusion is a Canadian company based in Burnaby, British Columbia. The UKAEA has announced an agreement for General Fusion to build and operate its Fusion Demonstration Plant (FDP) at UKAEA’s Culham Campus.

The FDP will demonstrate General Fusion’s proprietary Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) technology, paving the way for the company’s commercial pilot plant.