HC Deb 15 January 1998 vol 304 c267W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to commission further research into nuclear fusion; and if she will make a statement on progress. [23463]

Mr. Battle

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) carry out an on-going programme of research into nuclear fusion. This is supported by my Department, and it forms part of the European Union's fusion programme. Later this year, the UKAEA will complete and commission an important new experimental device—the mega-amp spherical tokamak (MAST).

Both the European and UK programmes have made progress in the last year. The Joint European Torus achieved world-record values for fusion power and fusion energy. On a smaller scale, the UKAEA's small tight aspect ratio tokamak (START) achieved world record values for the efficiency of plasma confinement. Although the research is meeting and exceeding its targets, it is still thought to be at least 50 years before we could build commercial fusion power stations.