The work of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, set up by UK Government in 2014, has been instrumental in recommending how the UK can build on its expertise to build up a viable and sustainable nuclear research capability. NIRAB’s recommendations, and the amalgamation of energy and research policymaking in the recently-formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, offer real opportunities for the UK, especially in exploiting the potential of Small Modular Reactors and in developing advanced (so-called Generation IV) nuclear power stations. But in my role at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, it is the longer term, enormous potential of nuclear fusion that I am most passionate about. Fusion is the power source of the Sun and stars and, when harnessed efficiently here on Earth, can offer a transformative new energy technology. Fusion has virtually limitless fuel, is inherently safe and will generate no long-lived radioactive waste. UKAEA’s fusion research programme at Culham in Oxfordshire is second to none: we operate the world’s largest fusion experiment, JET, and have acquired unparalleled expertise and skills in key fusion technologies, such as handling the radioactive fusion fuel – tritium, robotic maintenance and the testing of candidate powerplant materials. I believe that with further investment the UK can play an instrumental part in designing the first fusion power stations, with the ultimate aim of becoming a vendor to the rest of the world.
Energy Voice 17th March 2017 read more »