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The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) have announced a new strategic partnership to accelerate the demonstration and commercialisation of fusion energy.

Turk (left) and Bowie meeting in Washington, DC (Image: @AndrewBowie_MP / X)

The agreement was signed in Washington, DC, by US Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk and the UK's Minister for Nuclear and Networks Andrew Bowie.

The partnership will bring together scientists and engineers from the UK and USA to address the technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion energy and allow shared access for facilities and stimulate new R&D opportunities. It will also standardise international regulatory frameworks and codes of practice, develop resilient supply chains for fusion materials to support the industry long-term and promote skills development.

A coordinating committee will meet for the first time in early 2024. Led jointly by the DOE and DESNZ, it will include representatives from national laboratories, academia and industry to advance a shared fusion vision. The committee is expected to form and oversee working groups to identify and advance priority US-UK collaborative opportunities.

The USA and the UK have a long history of collaborative efforts in generating scientific and technological progress in fusion energy research and development, supported predominantly in the USA through the DOE Office of Science's Fusion Energy Sciences programme and in the UK through the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the DOE noted. "The new partnership builds on this collaborative history, including for example the UKAEA-Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Fusion Fellowships as well as research on the MAST-U tokamak in the UK and the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in the United States."

DESNZ noted that the partnership marks the UK's first formal international fusion collaboration since the recent launch of the GBP650 million (USD799 million) Fusion Futures Programme. This is on top of the GBP700 million that has already been allocated to UK fusion energy programmes between 2022 and 2025.

"International collaboration is key for advancing fusion and achieving our ambition of getting a commercial fusion reactor grid-ready by 2040," Bowie said. "The UK and the US are world-leaders in this technology, and pooling our resources will unlock new private sector investment. This bold new partnership will help turn our fusion ambitions into reality."

Turk added: "The United States and the United Kingdom have long partnered on some of the world's most ambitious scientific endeavours. I look forward to welcoming Minister Bowie to Washington to build on that partnership to advance fusion energy that could ultimately help us achieve our countries' shared goal of ending the climate crisis."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 11 November 2023
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