Sensat platform helps UK power project visualise a fusion future

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has adopted a digital visualisation and planning tool to support the design of a prototype fusion energy power plant.

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is a first-of-its-kind programme that aims to demonstrate a route to commercial fusion power stations.

To help deliver the project, which will be built at West Burton near Retford in North Nottinghamshire, the UKAEA has partnered with London-based Sensat to use its visualisation platform. In the first phase, an outline design of STEP, including the power plant and each major system, has been produced.

According to the UKAEA, fusion has the potential to provide a source of safe, low-carbon energy worldwide, helping to secure a future of energy independence whilst also being sustainable.

Fusion power creates many million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil, or gas, and has the potential to provide baseload power, complementing renewable and other low-carbon energy sources as a share of many countries’ energy portfolios.

However, designing a plant of this level of complexity is far from straightforward. In its design strategy, UKAEA is seeking to minimise operational risk and elevate decision-making by leveraging data-driven insights.

James Heaton, STEP project manager for the UKAEA, said: “This collaboration with Sensat represents a step in our journey towards establishing a world-leading prototype fusion energy plant. The visual insights provided by Sensat’s platform are instrumental in de-risking our operations and potentially ensuring a secure, clean, and efficient energy future.”

Partnering with Sensat, which was founded in 2017, the STEP team is hoping to understand and then minimise environmental impact, whilst fostering improved collaboration among internal teams and external stakeholders from the very outset of the programme.

Sensat is expected to be a key player in overcoming these challenges by introducing a unified platform that “transcends” traditional barriers.

Visualisation is said to enhance planning, deepen site understanding, and navigate constraints seamlessly. Through Sensat’s approach, stakeholders and team members can review layers of visual data, ensuring everyone has access to real-time information that can facilitate collaboration in what is claimed is an unprecedented manner.

James Dean, Sensat’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “At Sensat, we believe in the transformative power of data visualisation to usher in a green and clean future in energy. Our collaboration with UKAEA marks a significant stride towards achieving net-zero targets, and we are proud to contribute to a future where clean energy is not just a goal but a reality.”

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