The UK Atomic Energy Authority has welcomed a new government report that sets out a strategy for nuclear research and development in the UK in support of the next generation of nuclear power stations.
The Nuclear Research and Development Advisory Board, established under the chairmanship of the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir John Beddington, has today published its report. It includes recommendations for developing the expertise and skills needed to secure nuclear’s role in the UK’s long-term energy mix and position the UK as a world leader in nuclear research.
A key recommendation is the establishment of a £15 million National Nuclear Users’ Facility (NNUF). This will provide state-of-the-art microtesting equipment to develop new materials that improve safety, reduce the waste burden and increase efficiency of advanced nuclear systems. Culham Centre for Fusion Energy - operated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority - is one of the partners in NNUF, along with the National Nuclear Laboratory and Dalton Cumbrian Facility. The users will come from academia, industry and the national labs themselves.
The report also notes the potential of fusion power to be produced in the second half of this century, and the “world-leading role that the UK is playing in the global development of fusion technologies and capability”. It highlights the economic benefits to the UK from fusion - British firms have already won over £200 million in contracts for the international next-step fusion project ITER. The report goes on to point out areas of synergy in fission and fusion research. The UK Atomic Energy Authority is currently developing these synergies - in materials research (work is already underway on a new materials laboratory at Culham), computational nuclear analysis, and robotic maintenance systems.
Professor Steve Cowley, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said:
This roadmap is a vital part of ensuring the UK can deliver its nuclear new build programme. We are ready to play a full role in the research effort, working with the Government and our partners from industry and universities. Especially exciting is the new National Nuclear Users Facility which, with the recent advances in computational material design and microtesting, will enable us and our partners to develop materials for safer, cheaper and more sustainable nuclear systems.
We also welcome the review’s support for fusion and the recognition of Culham Centre for Fusion Energy’s work to keep the UK in a leading position in this technology. Fusion has the potential to transform the world’s energy supply and it is important that we retain our capability in this area.
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Notes to Editors
UK Atomic Energy Authority
Nuclear Industrial Strategy
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has issued a series of reports on UK nuclear strategy based on the Beddington panel’s review.
The review was overseen by the Ad-Hoc Nuclear Research and Development (R&D) Advisory Board, established in March 2012 and chaired by Sir John Beddington. It looks at the complete civil nuclear R&D landscape in the UK, including:
- government policies that give rise to research needs
- existing funding sources that support R&D programmes
- the capability of the research base in the UK to meet the government and private sector demands
- a baseline to plan for the future development of nuclear R&D capability in the UK that is required to underpin medium and long-term aspirations in the nuclear energy strategy.
UK Atomic Energy Authority
Originally formed in 1954 to carry out nuclear research for the government, the Authority now manages the UK fusion research programme at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, including the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) experiment. It also operates the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion facility on behalf of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) at Culham. Fusion research at Culham is funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme and by the European Union under the EURATOM Treaty. See http://www.uk-atomic-energy.org.uk and www.ccfe.ac.uk for more information.