Boris Johnson has said the UK can become carbon neutral by the middle of the century and “beat the sceptics”, in his speech to the Conservative party conference. The prime minister touched repeatedly on climate change, green technology and science in his address, and suggested that nuclear fusion – which the Tories promised £200 million in extra funding over the weekend – was on the brink of a breakthrough. “They are on the verge of creating commercially viable miniature fusion reactors for sale around the world,” he said of the JET fusion research centre at Culham in Oxfordshire. “Now I know they have been on the verge for some time. It is a pretty spacious kind of verge,” he joked, to laughter in the audience. While the UK is considered a world leader in fusion research, its continued role in a multibillion European fusion project in France has been called into question by Brexit. In response to Johnson’s speech, Tom Nicholas at the University of York says: “I would say that’s definitely a stretch.” Culham’s best case would be full technology demonstration by the 2040s, he adds, although even that wouldn’t be a commercially viable fusion plant. Johnson said that while people used to suggest that wind and solar power weren’t fit for the UK, on some days they were now supplying more than half of the country’s electricity needs.
New Scientist 2nd Oct 2019 read more »
Where coal was once hewn from the ground to fuel an earlier industrial revolution, the first sods were dug to lay the foundations for a very different kind of energy source: the fusion of hydrogen nuclei, the process that powers the sun. The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s new £22 million fusion technology facility will be constructed across the road from the University of Sheffield Nuclear AMRC, and once open in September 2020 will mark a significant stepping stone towards turning the dream of abundant, clean and safe electricity into a reality. For the Sheffield City Region to be selected as a major centre for this clean energy revolution is testimony to the University’s engineering research talents – we are first in the UK for engineering research income and investment ahead of Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London – and to the vision of its local councils, Rotherham and Sheffield, who are determined to transform what was once the beating heart of the first industrial revolution into the world’s most prestigious Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District. This new facility could quite easily have been built at UKAEA’s Culham HQ in Oxfordshire, in the so-called ‘golden triangle’ of the South East or elsewhere in the north of England. Instead, South Yorkshire was chosen for its long and proud history of advanced nuclear manufacturing, its engineering research expertise and the role it is increasingly playing in the renewal of the wider Northern Powerhouse economy.
Sheffield Star 2nd Oct 2019 read more »