Following the resolution to grant planning permission by the South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee, construction of General Fusion’s demonstration at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham Campus is expected to start this summer.
When construction of the 10,500m2 building is complete, General Fusion will lease the building from UKAEA. The company’s fusion machine is expected to be commissioned in 2026 and fully operational by early 2027.
Built to 70 per cent scale of a commercial power plant, the demonstration will create fusion conditions in a power plant-relevant environment, achieving temperatures of over 100 million degrees Celsius. This is a crucial step on the path to eventually powering homes, businesses and industry with zero-carbon fusion energy. The facility itself will not generate power.
Siting the facility at the UKAEA’s Culham Campus, part of the thriving UK Fusion Cluster, enables General Fusion to access world-leading science and engineering capabilities, such as knowledge and experience in designing, constructing and operating the record-breaking Joint European Torus. In addition, the company will benefit from the UK’s existing fusion energy supply chains.
“The UK has been a longstanding leader in fusion energy development. We are thrilled to join the Culham Campus and the UK’s Fusion Cluster, and anticipate creating 60 long-term jobs at the site,” said Greg Twinney, CEO of General Fusion. “In addition, we expect the project will generate approximately 200 jobs during construction.”
“The UKAEA welcomes this milestone as it aligns with our strategy to create clusters that accelerate innovation in fusion and related technologies, and support public-private partnerships to thrive,” said Professor Sir Ian Chapman, CEO of UKAEA. “It also builds upon our heritage of hosting major fusion facilities here at our Culham Campus.”
The building was designed by architects, AL_A, led by Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete and Ove Arup Engineers, and has been developed to exemplary design and sustainability standards.
“Receiving planning permission is a huge milestone and testament to the close collaboration between our team, General Fusion, and the UKAEA. The building will not only be highly efficient but one that also expresses the technological optimism of fusion to solve the energy problems of the world,” said Amanda Levete, founder and principal of AL_A. “The design projects a confident message to the public about the extraordinary potential of this technology. It represents a clear shift in the relationship between environment and industry, moving from one of opposition to one of symbiosis.”
The design of the fusion demonstration facility is intended to enhance the surrounding biodiversity. The building will achieve BREEAM excellent accreditation through a mix of strategies that include reusing waste heat, natural ventilation to minimize cooling loads, as well as a large green roof and extensive photovoltaics.
Photo: The fusion demonstration will be built to 70 per cent scale of a commercial power plant at UKAEA’s Culham Campus. The fusion machine is expected to be commissioned in 2026 and fully operational by early 2027 (credit: AL_A).