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Government announces up to £650 million for UK alternatives to Euratom R&T

Following the decision to not associate to Euratom R&T, the government announces plans for an ambitious and cutting-edge suite of new fusion R&D in the UK.

The government announces today (Thursday 7 September) that it plans to put in place an ambitious and cutting-edge suite of new, alternative R&D programmes to support the UK’s flourishing fusion sector and strengthen international collaboration, in support of the UK Fusion Strategy. This is following the decision to not associate to the Euratom Research and Training programme (Euratom R&T) and by extension, the Fusion for Energy Programme.

To deliver this package the government plans to invest up to £650 million until 2027, subject to business case approvals. This is in addition to the £126 million announced in November 2022 to support UK fusion R&D programmes. Further details on the alternative programmes will be set out later in the Autumn.

We remain very open to collaboration with the EU and other international partners, and this will form a key part of this new programme of work.

The new alternative fusion R&D package will include:

  • new facilities, specifically to grow new fusion fuel cycle capabilities and support innovation
  • a new fusion skills package, to ensure that we develop the skills and capability needed to deliver on our fusion strategy
  • further support to strengthen international collaborative projects
  • other measures to accelerate the commercialisation of fusion including boosting our world leading Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production programme

Given delays to association and the direction of travel of these EU programmes, an alternative approach gives the UK the best opportunity to deliver our fusion strategy by driving job creation, investment and growth in our world-leading fusion sector.

This ambitious domestic programme fully aligns with the core principle of international collaboration in the UK fusion strategy, and we remain open to such collaboration including with the EU and ITER (the large international fusion experiment being built in France). However, we believe the UK can be of most use to the global fusion mission outside the Euratom R&T framework.

Planning on the new package is well advanced and we will announce further details in due course.

Sir Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), welcomed the announcement.

UKAEA welcomes the clarity about our future relationship with the Euratom R&T programme which provides the certainty needed by the sector. The government’s commitment to an ambitious alternative R&D programme will be hugely important in sustaining the UK’s position as a leader in fusion R&D as well as developing an industrial capability to deliver future fusion powerplants. We welcome the ambition to retain, and even enhance, our international collaborative relationships through this substantial package of alternative R&D.

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