Cross-Atlantic Partnership Reinforced as UK Minister for Nuclear and Networks Visits the Laboratory

Written by
Gwen McNamara
Nov. 16, 2023

Following the announcement of a major new strategic partnership between the U.S. and U.K. to accelerate commercial fusion, the U.K.’s Minister for Nuclear and Networks, Andrew Bowie, visited the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to discuss how laboratories in the U.S. and the U.K. can continue collaborating on fusion energy.

“International collaboration is key for advancing fusion and achieving our ambition of getting a commercial fusion reactor grid-ready by 2040,” Bowie said in a statement about the strategic partnership. “The U.K. and U.S. are world leaders in this technology, and pooling our resources will unlock new private sector investment.”

The partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.K. Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) is expected to accelerate the demonstration and commercialization of fusion energy. The new partnership builds on the U.S. and U.K.’s collaborative history, including the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority-PPPL Fusion Fellowships, as well as research on the MAST-Upgrade tokamak in the U.K. and the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in the U.S.

In conversation with Bowie, PPPL Laboratory Director Steve Cowley emphasized the benefits of public-private partnerships to accelerate the development of fusion energy. “We need innovation to get to fusion power,” he said, emphasizing that public and private partners can take advantage of each others’ strengths. 

Following a meeting with Laboratory leadership, Bowie took a tour of PPPL, visiting the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U), the Laboratory’s primary fusion experiment, as well as the Fusion Research and Technology Hub (FuRTH), which is an ideal space for partnerships with industry. He also learned how the Laboratory uses its more than 70 years of expertise in plasma, the fourth state of matter, to advance microelectronicsquantum materials and devices and sustainable manufacturing technologies, and also engaged with representatives from some of the private companies who were onsite working at PPPL. 

“What I am taking back with me is the collaborative nature of the projects here and in the U.K.,” Bowie said. “People may think of fusion as science fiction, but it’s absolutely science fact.” 

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PPPL is mastering the art of using plasma — the fourth state of matter — to solve some of the world's toughest science and technology challenges. Nestled on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, New Jersey, our research ignites innovation in a range of applications including fusion energy, nanoscale fabrication, quantum materials and devices, and sustainability science. The University manages the Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the nation’s single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. Feel the heat at and