The Licensing of Nuclear Fusion Power Plants – a Proportionate Approach

The Licensing of Nuclear Fusion Power Plants – a Proportionate Approach

The Licensing of Nuclear Fusion Power Plants – a Proportionate Approach 150 150 amit
UKAEA-CCFE-CP(20)125

The Licensing of Nuclear Fusion Power Plants – a Proportionate Approach

The commercial exploitation of nuclear fusion energy for electricity production is now nearer than previously imagined. Several organisations are developing fusion reactors with the aim of demonstrating electricity production in the 2030s. These timescales suggest that conceptual designs are being worked on now and the detailed design, construction and commissioning of these demonstration power plants will be taking place over the next 10 to 15 years.  At present nuclear fusion is not covered by the comprehensive set of international Conventions and standards covering nuclear safety and nuclear security that apply to nuclear fission power plants. Also, national laws and regulatory frameworks for nuclear energy focus on nuclear fission and often their licensing provisions do not apply to nuclear fusion facilities. It is recognised that the hazard potential of a fusion power plant is significantly less than that of a fission power plant; however, the public and politicians will expect this new form of electricity production from nuclear fusion to be regulated to ensure the safety of workers and the public and the protection of the environment. The paper explores the issues surrounding a licensing framework for nuclear fusion and argues for a licensing framework to be proportionate to the hazard potential of fusion power. It will also consider the regulatory challenges associated with the introduction of fusion power, the likely steps in the licensing process and the appropriate regulatory oversight.

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First Joint IAEA-ITER Technical Meeting on Safety and Radiation Protection for Fusion, Online, 17-19 November 2020