On May 31, 2021 the Regulatory Horizons Council, a new expert committee responsible for educating the UK’s government on the regulations necessary for the advancement of technological innovation, released a report on its recommendations to ensure the rapid and safe progress of fusion energy. The Fusion Industry Association was cited throughout the report with regards to the economic benefits, recommended regulations, and safety of fusion technology.
In the introduction, Chair of the Nuclear Industry Association, Dr. Tim Stone CBE writes, “Fusion energy has been for many years, and is still today, the most promising long-term solution for the world’s need for energy without CO2 pollution,” citing FIA Member companies First Light Fusion and General Fusion as some of the various drivers for creating fusion as “a net energy generator” in the near future.
The report discussed why the UK is seeking fusion energy, key objectives for fusion energy, and possible regulatory approaches for fusion. It was informed by sources like the FIA, other projects, and the council’s final recommendations.
This report echoes the views provided by the FIA and its members in the UK, saying, “The current regulatory approach is broadly working well,” and maintaining, “Public and investor perception of fusion is key.”
The key recommendation from this report is shown by this quote:
The UK must now show it has the appropriate regulatory environment to capitalise commercially on fusion energy by providing a clear direction in early 2021. The full regulatory framework may take longer to develop and is likely to evolve as more fusion technologies come to market, but uncertainty around these issues is a key part of embracing innovation and must not be used as a reason to delay providing clear leadership on the overall approach.
The rest of the world should take note, this report shows how the UK intends to lead on commercializing fusion energy, with an regulatory approach that is flexible and risk-informed, while allowing for innovation.
FIA Communications Director Melanie Windridge published a piece in Forbes on June 2, 2021, analyzing the recommended regulations for fusion energy in the UK. She states, “The variety in fusion approaches is one of the reasons why the fusion community wants regulation to be proportional—different machine designs at different scales have different risks.”
The Fusion Industry Association was pleased to be consulted for the results of this report, and we look forward to continuing to engage with the RHC and others with regards to fusion and its benefits. The complete report is accessible on the UK’s Government page and embedded below.