Brexit Threat to Future of Fusion

Leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) could have serious implications for the UK’s plans to build new nuclear power stations and research into the development of fusion energy.

Fusion energy could be a key solution to the global energy crisis and is the process that heats the Sun and other stars, where atomic nuclei collide together and release energy. The Joint European Torus Project, hosted at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, is researching how to create clean and safe energy from fusion by 2050.

This project is currently jointly funded by Euratom and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The goal is to have the world’s first fusion power plant up and running by the 2040s, and fusion electricity supplying homes by 2050.

The centre says by 2050 an “expected rise in global population from seven billion to ten billion, and better living standards, could lead to a two to threefold increase in energy consumption.”

It says this demand will not be met without the introduction of fusion energy, meaning it is vital to the future of the planet, and could one day supply a fifth of the world’s total power.

An explanation of why fusion is needed on the website says: “Fusion is expected to become a major part of the energy mix during the second half of this century.

“With adequate funding, the first fusion power plant can be operating in the 2040s.”

But, it also spells out the importance of Euratom, adding: “CCFE is working with its counterparts around Europe to implement this plan, which would see fusion power on the grid by 2050.

“Fusion, therefore, could have a key role to play in the energy market of the future, with the potential to produce at least 20 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2100.”

It is expected the departure will also slow up plans for planned new standard nuclear power planet in the UK.

These include Japan-led schemes Horizon and Nugen which are developing planet at Anglesey and Cumbria respectively, and the EDF Energy Hinkley Point C power station.