The UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) new nuclear fusion technology research facility, at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) development in Rotherham, has been completed two weeks ahead of schedule by property developer Harworth Group plc.
unit, successfully overseen by Harworth’s building delivery director David Elliott and built by Sheffield-based contractor JF Finnegan, comprises office accommodation split over two floors and a research laboratory at ground-floor level.
Its completion triggers UKAEA taking a 20-year lease with Harworth at a rent in line with other manufacturers at the AMP and it will now be fitted out prior to formal occupation of the building later this year.
The new facility is being funded as part of the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
An additional £2 million of investment came from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund, thereby helping the UKAEA join other leading occupiers at the AMP including Rolls-Royce, Boeing, McLaren Automotive and the University of Sheffield’s AMRC and NAMRC – further emphasising the park’s standing as being at the centre of high-value employment in the UK and forming part of the UK’s efforts to rebalance its economy.
The UKAEA will use the facility to develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components – for example novel metals and ceramics. These will then be tested and evaluated under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor (including high heat flux, in-vacuum, and strong magnetic fields).
This unique facility will help UK companies win contracts as part of ITER – the key international nuclear fusion research and engineering project being built in the south of France.
Looking further ahead, it will also enable technology development for the first fusion power plants, which are already being designed. The facility will also require regular supplies of specialist metals and materials, providing future opportunities for the North’s supply chain.
Damon Johnstone, head of UKAEA Yorkshire, said: “This is another key milestone for the new facility hit on-time and I’m delighted with the quality of what Harworth and its contractors have delivered.
“The modern facility is a fitting base for Fusion Technology as we ramp up our efforts to enable the delivery of sustainable fusion power. Our focus is now on mobilising our operation so we can begin to build our team.”
Duncan Armstrong-Payne, Harworth Group plc associate director – major projects, said: “Delivering this unit on-time and on-budget despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the worst of the British weather shows Harworth at its best and we are delighted to formally welcome the UKAEA to the AMP.
“We will support the agency as strongly as we can to make their game-changing technology a reality to support the UK’s net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 target and have no doubt that their presence will attract parts of their supply chain to invest in the AMP and Sheffield City Region’s economy over the next few years.”