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UK Atomic Energy Authority’s new sustainability strategy outlines its commitment to delivering fusion research in an energy efficient and environmentally responsible manner. 

 Its key sustainability goals are designed to protect and enhance the environment while supporting the UK’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

 UKAEA, which leads the development of sustainable fusion energy, has committed to design and construct new buildings completed after January 1, 2023, with a strong focus on sustainability by achieving a BREEAM Excellent design rating and net zero operational carbon emissions. 

 As part of the new strategy, published today for the first time alongside the full annual report and accounts for 2021/22, UKAEA has also vowed to improve and upgrade the energy performance of the existing estate and promote sustainability in its supply chain to ensure broader environmental benefits. 

 Silvia Rapa, UKAEA Environment and Sustainability Manager, said:  

 “Fusion promises to be an important part of future low carbon energy production and the UK is proud to be a global leader in developing this transformative technology. 

 “Until fusion is realised, and as conventional renewable energy sources struggle to keep pace with a growing demand, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to operate as responsibly as possible. This strategy gives us strong direction, and outlines our commitment to delivering world class research in an energy efficient manner to minimise the impact we have on our environment and to support and enhance the wider government net zero targets.”    

 UKAEA has developed clear objectives to help achieve its three primary sustainability goals. 

New buildings completed after 1 January 2023:  

  • BREEAM Excellent sustainable design rating 
  • Net zero operational carbon  
  • 25% water use reduction and sustainable drainage  
  • Biodiversity net-gain; responsibly sourced materials 
  • Sustainable transport facilities and incentives

Existing buildings monitored and upgraded:  

  • Gas energy supply transitioned to electric 
  • Solar PV panels and hot water systems  
  • Facade and roof refurbishments for insulation  
  • Metering and energy monitoring 
  • Develop long-term decarbonisation plan
    Environmental focus to procurement process: 
  • Updated competency training for contract managers  
  • Structured sustainability selection criteria  
  • Emissions data collection and ambitious targets 
  • Cut carbon footprint and single use plastics   
  • Develop greenhouse gas reduction strategy

Fusion energy has great potential to deliver safe, sustainable, low carbon energy for generations to come. It has been described as the ultimate energy source, based on the same processes that power the sun and stars.  

Running fusion experiments is a highly energy-intensive activity and represents a short-term emissions cost as an investment in a much longer-term sustainable future. For this reason, UKAEA is exempt from the standard Greening Government Commitments operational targets and fusion related emissions are excluded from sustainability targets so as not to impact the development of fusion technology.   

Visit for the full UKAEA sustainability strategy. 

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