The boss of a private energy venture has said fusion power is achievable in "years, not decades" as the company announced the UK's newest fusion reactor has been turned on for the first time and has officially achieved first plasma.
Tokamak Energy's new reactor, the ST40, aims to produce plasma temperature of 100m degrees by 2018, which is the temperature required for fusion and a whopping seven times hotter than the centre of the sun.
The Oxfordshire-based company, which grew out of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, was established in 2009 to design and develop small fusion reactors.
The firm's plan is to put the clean energy into the grid by 2030.
Chief executive Dr David Kingham said: "The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100m degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades."
Kingham said the company has broken its plan down into a series of engineering challenges.
"We are already halfway to the goal of fusion energy; with hard work we will deliver fusion power at commercial scale by 2030," he said.
The new reactor marks off the third stage of its five-stage plan. Next steps include producing first electricity by 2025 and making commercially viable fusion power by 2030.