AN ORGANISATION which carries out leading energy research on behalf of the Government has handed out a £1 million contract.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), based near Abingdon, carries out fusion energy research and oversees Britain’s fusion programme.

Fusion research aims to copy the process which powers the sun, to create a new large-scale source of low carbon energy.

Engineering firm R&B Switchgear Group secured the contract – worth just under £1 million – to design and build a ‘fully bespoke switchboard solution to replace 30 obsolete power distribution systems’ at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

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Robert Sheppard, deputy head of buildings and facilities management at UKAEA, said: “The bid from R&B Switchgear Group was of a very high quality and gave us full confidence of successful delivery of this contract.

“We look forward to working with them to implement these changes to our electrical infrastructure as part of our overall efforts to realise fusion energy, which has great potential for ensuring a low carbon, sustainable source of energy over the coming decades.”

R&B director Max Beswick added: “The UK Atomic Energy Authority is at the very cutting edge of fusion technology, and we are delighted to be working with such a prestigious, future facing organisation.

“We knew the site would require a truly bespoke retrofit solution, especially given their current equipment has been in service for more than 50 years.

“We considered all of the challenges and variables at play in order to design a modern-day system that will enhance the performance and longevity of their electrical assets.”

Meanwhile, a scout group pilot programme at UKAEA is expected to expand in 2022.

A group of 26 youngsters from Clifton Hampden and Burcot Sea Scouts completed a four-week course with UKAEA, making solar powered charging banks using recycled biscuit tins, in addition to taking part in activities involving remote control robotic arms and a vacuum chamber.

Oxford Mail: Scouts take part in a workshop. Picture supplied by UKAEAScouts take part in a workshop. Picture supplied by UKAEA

Paige Cull, who organised the pilot programme, said: “Our goal was to help the scouts achieve their badges, as well as raise awareness of the important role fusion energy has to play in becoming a low carbon, sustainable energy source for young people and future generations.

“We were able to highlight the many STEM career pathways, alongside different apprenticeships and graduate schemes, with the aim of inspiring the scouts and getting them to think about their careers and aspirations.

“It went really well, and we’re now looking at how to broaden the programme to get more groups involved.”

Ian Shortman, Clifton Hampden group scout leader, added: “It was a fantastic experience for all the scouts and their leaders.

“We have all had great fun and learnt a tremendous amount about what happens at UKAEA and the opportunities available for young people.”