The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) was formed in 1954 when the British Government set up a new body to oversee the nation’s nuclear research programme. The role was to provide Britain’s atomic weapons deterrent and develop reactor technologies for the nuclear power stations of the future.
Early achievements included the opening of the world’s first full-scale nuclear power station at Calder Hall – which led to the construction of ten further Magnox stations – and the Dounreay Fast Reactor, which went critical in 1959.
UKAEA was also exploring the potential of fusion energy, and opened a purpose-built fusion laboratory at Culham, Oxfordshire in 1960. UKAEA is still responsible for the UK fusion programme.
UKAEA’s mission is to lead the delivery of sustainable fusion energy and maximise the scientific and economic benefit.
The four interconnected strategic goals to deliver on this mission are:
- 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
- Goal 4 – Create places that accelerate innovation and develop skilled people for industry to thrive.
Fusion, the process that powers the Sun, can play a big part in the UK’s low-carbon energy future. UKAEA scientists and engineers are working with partners worldwide to develop fusion as a new source of sustainable energy for tomorrow’s power stations.