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Nuclear Reactors: Research

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and (b) other UK nuclear research-related grant holders of losing access to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor after the conclusion of the current contracts.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The UK will remain a world-leader in fusion science. We recently approved an ambitious commitment to fund £220 million towards the first five-year phase of UK Atomic Energy Authority’s STEP programme. This phase will complete detailed design and development work, ensuring the UK’s fantastic nuclear researchers are well placed to deliver the world’s first commercial fusion power plant by 2040.

UK companies have secured around £500 million in commercial contracts from ITER in areas including remote handling, plasma heating, and diagnostics; we are well positioned to deliver more before operations commence in 2025. UK academics and researchers are valued ITER partners, including those at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

The UK will continue to participate in ITER via Fusion for Energy until the end of 2020.

Beyond the Transition Period, we are open to participating in specific EU programmes where it is in the UK’s interests. The Euratom Research and Training Programme, including membership of Fusion for Energy, will be considered alongside other EU programmes.

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