UKAEA researches fusion energy and related technologies, with the aim of positioning the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy.

Mission & goals

UKAEA’s mission is to deliver sustainable fusion energy and maximise scientific and economic impact.

This is underpinned by four goals:

  • Goal 1 - Be a world leader in fusion research and development;

  • Goal 2 - Enable the delivery of sustainable fusion power plants;

  • Goal 3 - Drive economic growth and high-tech jobs in the UK; and

  • Goal 4 - Create places that accelerate innovation and develop skilled people for industry to thrive.

Nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun, can play a big part in our carbon-free energy future. UKAEA manages the UK fusion programme at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) which is one of the world’s leading fusion research laboratories. Our scientists and engineers are working with partners around the globe to develop fusion as a new source of clean energy for tomorrow’s power stations. UKAEA’s research can be accessed at the UKAEA Scientific Publications site.

UKAEA has hosted the JET (Joint European Torus) facility at Culham since its design started in 1973. First operation was in 1983 and since then it has set world records for plasma performance. UKAEA operates JET under a contract with the European Commission, with the science programme managed by the EUROfusion consortium. The MAST facility, also based at Culham, is leading the world in research into tight aspect ratio tokamaks, and is currently undergoing a major upgrade. MAST Upgrade is expected to start operation in late 2020.

New facilities linked to our fusion research are now operational at Culham:

Materials Research Facility (MRF), is a new UK facility for micro-characterisation of materials now open to university and industry users. It is part of the National Nuclear Users Facility (NNUF) initiative.

Remote Applications in Challenging Environments facility (RACE) is conducting R&D and commercial activities in the field of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS).

Oxfordshire Advanced Skills (OAS) is a training centre enabling Oxfordshire business to offer young people hi-tech and engineering apprenticeships of the highest quality.

Such a broad and extensive fusion research and technology programme means that UKAEA is now embarking on the design of a UK fusion power station – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, known as STEP. A £220M initial concept design phase for STEP has started – with the ultimate aim of producing net electricity from fusion around 2040.

In addition, we are responsible for several pension schemes, and own land at the Harwell Campus and Culham Science Centre sites in Oxfordshire, and are committed to further develop these thriving science, technology and business parks.