Work completed on nuclear fusion research facility

Property investment and regeneration business, Harworth Group, has practically completed the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s new nuclear fusion technology research facility at its Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) development two weeks ahead of schedule.

The 22,300 sq ft unit, 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 UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) taking a 20-year lease with Harworth at a rent in line with other manufacturers at the AMP.

UKAEA will now fit out the unit prior to taking formal occupation of the building later this year.

The 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 £2m of investment came from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund, 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.

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 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.

And the facility will 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, associate director of major projects (Yorkshire & Central), at Harworth, added: “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.

“We 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.”