5 Apr (NucNet): The UK-based fusion energy company Tokamak Energy has urged the government to do more to encourage stronger private investment in the sector.
In written evidence to the House of Commons’ science and technology committee, the company, which is a spin-out from the Culham fusion laboratory near Oxford and is focused on the development of spherical tokamaks, said the UK should match some of the legislative and policy measures used in the US to encourage private ventures to develop fusion technology and future fusion power plants.
Tokamak Energy said the the US Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernisation Act, which was passed in January 2019, explicitly includes fusion in the definition of “advanced nuclear reactor” and provides for establishment of a regulatory framework for advanced nuclear power plants, including fusion, by December 2027.
The company said the UK government has appreciated evidence supporting the compact spherical tokamak route to fusion power. But it noted that the government’s scientific research establishments work cautiously and “are not configured for accelerated innovation, development and deployment of new technology”.
According to Tokamak Energy fusion is one of the very few areas today with enormous long-term global economic potential where the UK has a distinctive global lead.
In December 2018 Tokamak Energy announced that it has raised a total of over £50m of private investment for the development of fusion energy.
Tokamak Energy is focused on spherical tokamaks, pioneered at Culham, because these compact devices can achieve a much higher plasma pressure for a given magnetic field than conventional tokamaks, making them more efficient.
The company aims to produce industrial scale energy with its fusion power demonstrator by 2025.