Nuclear and Networks Minister Andrew Bowie signs major partnership with US to accelerate global fusion energy development.

The UK and US have today (Wednesday 8 November) formed a major new partnership to develop fusion technology.

Agreed in Washington DC by the UK’s Minister for Nuclear and Networks, Andrew Bowie, and the US Deputy Undersecretary at the Department for Energy, David Turk, this represents an important step in the nations’ energy relationship and promotes further global collaboration – vital for innovation in this flourishing technology.

Fusion involves mixing 2 forms of hydrogen and heating them to extreme temperatures, causing them to combine and release energy which is then harnessed to generate electricity. This technology could generate a near unlimited supply of clean electricity in the long-term.

This will transform global efforts to reach net zero and deliver energy independence. As the government builds a more diverse and resilient energy mix, which will lower energy bills in the long term, this new technology will demand a skilled workforce – supporting well-paid jobs while growing the economy.

The energy generated from fusion is many million times more efficient than burning coal, oil or gas and could generate a near unlimited supply of clean electricity – transforming global efforts to reach net zero and deliver long-term energy independence.

It is the UK’s first formal international fusion collaboration since the launch of the £650 million Fusion Futures Programme, which is ensuring the UK remains at the cutting-edge of innovation – with training opportunities and dedicated funding for fusion companies. This is on top of the £700 million that has already been allocated to UK fusion energy programmes between 2022 and 2025.

From the MAST-U tokamak in Oxfordshire to the DIII-D tokamak in California, American and British institutions have been longstanding collaborators on fusion research. The new partnership goes further and builds on the UK’s Fusion Strategy. It will:

  • bring together scientists and engineers from the UK and US to address the technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion energy
  • allow shared access for facilities and stimulate new R&D opportunities
  • standardise international regulatory frameworks and codes of practice
  • develop resilient supply chains for fusion materials to support the industry long-term
  • promote skills development for a robust talent pool in the coming decade

Nuclear and Networks Minister Andrew Bowie said:

International collaboration is key for advancing fusion and achieving our ambition of getting a commercial fusion reactor grid-ready by 2040.

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.

During the visit, Minister Bowie will also spend time at Princeton Plasmas Physics Laboratory, the historic home of many ‘fusion firsts’ in fusion research, meeting with Sir Steve Cowley on how laboratories in the UK and the US can continue collaborating on R&D and tokamak performance.

US Deputy Undersecretary at the Department for Energy David Turk said:

The United States and the United Kingdom have long partnered on some of the world’s most ambitious scientific endeavors.

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.

A coordinating committee will meet for the first time in early 2024. Led jointly by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the US Department of Energy, it will include representatives from national laboratories, academia and industry to advance a shared fusion vision.

This latest partnership reflects the unique and strong alliance between the 2 nations on issues of global importance. It follows a joint announcement earlier this year of the Atlantic Declaration, setting out the framework for a twenty-first century US-UK Economic Partnership.