First Look at Tokamak Energy's Fusion Power Plant
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Tokamak Energy has today released the first images of its commercial fusion power plant, which will generate enough electricity to power 50,000 homes in the 2030s.
Fusion power stations will provide safe and secure clean energy to towns and cities, and heat to industrial factories. One kilogram of fusion fuel releases the same amount of energy as burning around 10 million kilograms of coal, with no harmful emissions.
Tokamak Energy’s ST-E1 fusion pilot plant will demonstrate the capability of delivering electricity into the grid in the early 2030s and pave the way for globally deployable 500-megawatt commercial plants. They can be built next to large populations and centres of industry where power and heat is needed.
The process that powers the sun and stars, fusion is the opposite of nuclear fission – combining lighter atoms rather than splitting heavier ones – and is easy to stop because it needs continuous fuel supply. It produces no long-lived nuclear waste.
Warrick Matthews, Tokamak Energy MD, said: “Fusion energy from power plants like this will be zero carbon, safe, secure, extremely efficient and run on limitless fuel from sea water. Fusion is the ultimate energy source – no emissions and you can put a plant where you need it.
“Renewables are fantastic and absolutely vital, however we also need dependable, reliable power you can switch on around the clock – when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing – without high storage costs. Fusion fills that important gap as part of a sustainable net zero future.”
Fusion power plants can be connected to a traditional turbine to produce electricity as well as provide heat for multiple industrial uses, including metalworks, water desalination or hydrogen production. They will generate a lot of power from a small amount of fuel and take up small amounts of land, compared to solar and wind farms.
There are many different approaches to fusion. Tokamak Energy has over 10 years’ experience in designing, building, operating and validating record-breaking results using compact spherical tokamaks, which are shaped like a cored apple rather than a ring doughnut.
Mr Matthews added: “Our spherical tokamak design is more efficient than the traditional shape, with lower capital investment, operating costs and a smaller footprint.
“It has to be a globally deployable solution because the technologies and innovations available today are clearly not enough. Fusion power plants will have that unique ability to support and sustain a long-term, permanent transition from fossil fuels by ensuring future clean energy grids are resilient, flexible and safe for our communities.”
In 2021, Tokamak Energy achieved a fusion threshold plasma temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius in its current spherical tokamak, ST40. The company will build its next device, ST80-HTS, at UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham Campus in 2026 before completing ST-E1 in the early 2030s.
About Tokamak Energy
Tokamak Energy is a leading commercial fusion energy company based near Oxford, UK. It is pursuing the global deployment of commercial fusion through the combined development of spherical tokamaks with high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. The company, founded in 2009 as a spin-off from UK Atomic Energy Authority, currently employs a growing team of over 250 people with talent from the UK and experts from around the world.
It combines world leading scientific, engineering, industrial and commercial capabilities. The company has 70 families of patent applications and has raised $250 million, comprising $200m from private investors and $50m from the UK and US governments. Once realised, fusion energy will be clean, low cost and globally deployable – a key enabler for meeting world energy requirements and climate policy goals.
More information: www.tokamakenergy.co.uk
What is fusion energy?
When a mix of two forms of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) are heated to form a controlled plasma at high temperatures – hotter than the core of the sun – they fuse together to create helium and release energy which can be harnessed to produce electricity and heat.
This hot plasma is confined using strong magnets in a ring-shaped device called a ‘tokamak’. The energy created from fusion can be used to generate electricity and heat in the same way as existing power stations. Fusion is extremely efficient, creating many million times more energy, per kilogram of fuel, than burning coal, oil, or gas.