The Joint European Torus fusion device, operated at Culham by UKAEA. Credit: EUROfusion

The framework will allow companies to work closely with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), which researches the development of nuclear fusion energy and its related technologies.

The agreement will further enable UKAEA to call upon a broad range of engineering and technical skills across a range of activities; including fusion research, powerplant design, robotics, materials and other technology areas.

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This is seen as a vital step in the development of commercial fusion power and will help to grow the UK economy by ensuring industry is fully involved. There is also the opportunity for providers to work together on initiatives costing more than £100,000.

Paula Barham, UKAEA Head of Procurement, said: “This framework brings exciting opportunities for UKAEA; to work collaboratively with the Supply Chain and maximise the potential value within those relationships. This is vital to UKAEA succeeding and positioning the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy.”

The collaboration features companies with a background in mechanical engineering, process engineering, computer-based modelling and simulations, minor structural engineering for design, specialist nuclear services, and electrical, control and instrumentation (EC&I).

One example of how the arrangement could work is the delivery of a feasibility study – or concept design – for STEP. STEP is the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, a UKAEA programme to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor by 2040.

Gary Stables, Engineering Design Office Group Leader at UKAEA, said: “I look forward to working closely with our industrial partners, and working together to solve some of the challenges we will encounter on the road to a commercially viable fusion powerplant.”

The companies which are part of the framework are Assystem, DBD, Rolls-Royce, Jacobs, Frazer Nash, Atkins, IDOM, Mott MacDonald, and M5tec.

Atkins – a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group – has been awarded a role on the Engineering Design Services (EDS) framework.

Jason Dreisbach, Chief Engineer, Nuclear and Power, at Atkins, said: “This framework supports the creation of an innovative and collaborative culture across the nuclear industry, tapping into a huge range of skills and expertise.

“This collaborative approach will be vital in developing low carbon commercial fusion technology as we aim to reach Net Zero targets and make fusion energy a reality.”