A Fusion plant powered by Amazon founder will be built in the UK


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A fusion energy company backed by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is planning to build an experimental fusion power plant in Oxfordshire, after receiving support from the UK government. Canada’s General Fusion said it plans to begin construction of its Fusion Pilot (FDP) plant in the fall of 2022, at the Culham Fusion Energy Centre, seven miles south of Oxford. A range of fusion research projects are located on site, managed by the Government Research Agency and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). General Fusion has agreed a long-term lease with UKAEA and said it expects its plant to be operational in 2025. The project will build a future commercial power plant design at a 70 per cent scale, with the aim of demonstrating the feasibility of the heart of the technology. The company’s goal is to generate electricity from nuclear power from fusion reactions that take place at 100 million degrees Celsius. It will use deuterium as the fuel – a non-radioactive radioactive form of hydrogen also known as heavy hydrogen, although future commercial variants will use a mixture of deuterium and tritium, a heavier isotope of radioactive hydrogen. Science Minister Amanda Solway described the deal with General Fusion as “a major boost to our plans to develop a consolidation industry in the UK”. She added: “Fusion energy has great potential as a source of unlimited, low-carbon energy, and today’s announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the region and the UK’s position as a global scientific superpower.” In a blog post, Christopher Morey, CEO of General Fusion, wrote that his company had “accepted the UK government’s offer” to host the plant in Britain after a three-year site selection process. He added that the agreement “marks a historic milestone by being the first, perhaps of several public-private partnerships created exclusively to support power plant-related fusion energy offerings.” General Fusion is an ambitious private sector bid to create a fusion reactor power plant. He was backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2011, through the venture capital fund Bezos Expeditions. Earlier this year, the company announced additional investment from Thistledown Capital, a fund set up by the founder of Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify. Bezos, currently the world’s richest person with a net worth of around $190 billion (£140 billion), is known for his interest in ambitious high-tech projects. In 2000, he founded the spaceflight business, Blue Origin. Next month, the billionaire is set to step down as Amazon CEO, two weeks before embarking on a suborbital flight to the edge of space. Earlier this year, Atkins was awarded a contract with UKAEA to build a separate fusion research plant in Culham. Atkins has also worked for more than 10 years for ITER, a multi-billion euro international fusion energy project in southern France, where it is responsible for design and construction across the entire project.


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