ROTHERHAM will play an important role in attempts to commercialise nuclear fusion for low carbon energy when a £22 million research centre opens.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority will bring 40 high-skill jobs to a site on the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe next year.
The planned 25,000 sq ft facility, for which a sod-cutting was performed on Monday, will test and evaluate materials under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor, with high heat and strong magnetic fields.
There will be knock-on benefits for UK suppliers and, looking ahead, it will boost development of nuclear fusion power plants.
Colin Walters, director of the authority’s National Fusion Technology Platform, said: “Momentum is growing in fusion research.
“We believe the opening of this facility in South Yorkshire represents a practical step towards developing power plants.
“This facility will provide fantastic opportunities for UK businesses to win contracts and put UKAEA in a great position to help deliver the necessary expertise for the first nuclear fusion power stations.”
Fusion reactors do not produce radioactive material requiring special disposal like conventional ones, and cannot melt down.
The research centre will be mostly funded by the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal, with £2 million coming from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund.
Regional mayor Dan Jarvis said: “As well as creating new skilled jobs and opportunities for collaboration with the nearby research centres, this facility will create opportunities for other businesses as specialist suppliers, boosting the region’s economy and highlighting our world-leading specialisms in advanced manufacturing.”
Andrew Storer, chief executive of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, also based at Catcliffe, said: “We look forward to working with UKAEA at their new facility to develop manufacturing techniques for fusion power plants and help UK manufacturers win work in this growing global market.”
Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison added: “The decision for the Advanced Manufacturing Park to become the home of the UKAEA’s fusion test bed facility is a vital part of the north’s leadership role in developing nuclear technology.”