This study by London Economics for the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) assesses the costs and benefits of the UK’s investments in UKAEA fusion research to date.
UKAEA’s economic impact includes the creation of direct employment such as researchers and other highly skilled staff as well as direct contract and materials spend in the UK. In addition, UKAEA brings commercial benefits to UK industry from working with, or being supported by, UKAEA. UKAEA’s world leading knowledge in fusion helps to attract foreign investment, such as contracts related to ITER – a worldwide collaboration intended to provide a technical demonstration of large-scale fusion power – to the UK and generates spin-offs in the form of new technologies and firms.
The total economic impact of UKAEA to the UK economy is estimated to be between £1.3 billion and £1.4 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA), for the period 2009/10 to 2018/19. In terms of employment, it is estimated that UKAEA activities and ITER-related investments support between 34,880 and just over 36,900 job years1. (Figure 1)
These benefits compare to total UKAEA funding from UK Government sources of approximately £346.7 million over the same period.
The return on the UK Government’s investments in UKAEA is therefore estimated to be between £3.7 million and £4.1 million of Gross Value Added to the UK economy and between 100 and 106 job years supported for every £1 million invested in UKAEA by the UK Government.
Key findings from the report
- UKAEA’s significant contributions to the understanding of fusion energy;
- advances to “fusion-adjacent” technologies, such as the advancement of robotics and remote handling, the development of new materials and contributions to computing and artificial intelligence, among others
- improvements in skills leading to a higher skilled workforce;
- knowledge transfer between UKAEA and UK Industry as well as academia;
- improved fusion reactor designs, and the creation of regulatory standards for fusion;
- contributions to UK public policy and strategy; and,
- contributions to public awareness of fusion, and attracting new talent to the fusion sector via UKAEA’s outreach and public engagement activities.