Steelwork Complete on UK Atomic Energy Authority Research Facility

Harworth Group plc, a leading regenerator of land and property for development and investment, has completed the steel superstructure for the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) new nuclear fusion technology research facility at its flagship Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) development in Rotherham ahead of the unit’s practical completion in September.

The 22,300 sq.ft. unit, which is being built by Sheffield based contractor, JF Finnegan, on Harworth’s behalf, will comprise office accommodation split over two floors and a research laboratory at ground floor level. The UKAEA will be taking a 20-year lease with Harworth on its completion in September and will employ 40 highly skilled people – continuing the authority’s close working relationship with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC).

The new facility is being funded as part of the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. An additional £2 million of investment is coming from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund, thereby helping the UKAEA join other leading occupiers at the Advanced Manufacturing Park including Rolls-Royce, Boeing and McLaren Automotive, and further strengthening the park’s standing as being at the centre of high-value employment in the UK.

The UKAEA will use the facility to develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components – for example novel metals and ceramics. These will then be tested and evaluated under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor (including high heat flux, in-vacuum, and strong magnetic fields).

This unique facility will help UK companies win contracts as part of ITER – the key international nuclear fusion research and engineering project being built in the south of France. Looking further ahead, it will also enable technology development for the first fusion power plants, which are already being designed. The facility will also require regular supplies of specialist metals and materials, providing further opportunities for the North’s supply chain.

“We are delighted that the construction of the unit is on-track and the completion of its superstructure helps to bring the project alive. Momentum is growing in fusion research and we believe the opening of this facility in South Yorkshire represents a practical step towards developing fusion power plants. This facility will provide fantastic opportunities for UK businesses to win contracts and put UKAEA in a great position to help deliver the necessary expertise for the first fusion power stations.”

Colin Walters, Director of the National Fusion Technology Platform, UKAEA

“The Sheffield City Region is a growing hub of innovation, expertise, and knowledge. These qualities are among the reasons why the UKAEA chose to open a new facility in Rotherham, supported by Local Growth funding from the Sheffield City Region. Seeing the superstructure take shape truly brings the project to life and I look forward to seeing it progress. As well as creating new skilled jobs and opportunities for collaboration with the nearby research centres, this facility will create opportunities for other businesses as specialist suppliers, boosting the region’s economy and highlighting our world-leading specialisms in advanced manufacturing.”

Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Mayor of Sheffield City Region

“We and our contractors have battled the elements to get to this point and I delighted to announce that we have reached this milestone in the project and are on track to complete this game-changing facility. We look forward to the UKAEA’s staff joining the 2,000 people already employed at the AMP, continuing the site’s ongoing success as one of the North’s key developments offering exciting employment opportunities.”

Duncan Armstrong-Payne, Associate Director – Major Projects, Harworth Group plc

By 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England, which are investing LGF money in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.