Home sought for UK’s ground-breaking prototype fusion power plant

An artists’ impression of how the Step nuclear fusion reactor would look when built © UKAEA

The plant will pave the way to a limitless supply of low carbon, clean energy and help support thousands of new highly-skilled jobs.

Local communities across the UK are being asked to step forward with proposals to house a prototype fusion power plant in a move that could propel them on to the global stage in a world first. The successful bidder could be first in line for thousands of new local highly-skilled jobs, putting them at the heart of the government’s green industrial revolution.

Fusion offers a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

The UK government has today (Wednesday 2 December) invited UK regions and communities to put forward proposals to become the home of STEP – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production – the UK’s ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion plant.

Communities will have until the end of March 2021 to submit their nominations and will need to demonstrate that their local area has just the right mix of social, commercial and technical conditions to host the new plant – such as adequate land conditions, grid connection and water supply.

The successful site will be home to the construction of the plant, targeted for completion by 2040, and will become a global hub for fusion energy and associated industries. This could create thousands of local highly skilled jobs during the construction and operation of the plant, as well as for the local supply chain, while attracting a new science and technology hub for the UK.

This follows the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution set out earlier this month which committed to doubling down on the UK’s ambition to be the first country in the world to commercialise fusion energy technology, with £222 million allocated to begin the STEP design work.

Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said:

We want the UK to be a trailblazer in developing fusion energy by capitalising on its incredible potential as a limitless clean energy source that could last for generations to come.

Communities across the country have an incredible opportunity to secure their place in the history books as the home of STEP, helping the UK to be the first country in the world to commercialise fusion and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs to drive our green industrial revolution.

STEP will be delivered through the UK Atomic Energy Authority which carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the government.

In addition to its £222 million commitment to STEP, the government has also invested £184 million by 2025 in new fusion facilities, infrastructure and apprenticeships at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, providing further support to this important centre of fusion and innovation.

UK Atomic Energy Authority CEO Professor Ian Chapman said:

STEP is about moving from research and development to delivery.

It will prove that fusion is not a far-off dream, but a dawning reality with the UK leading the commercial development of fusion power and positioning itself as a pioneer in sustainable fusion energy.

To achieve this ambitious goal will require all the ingenuity and application of the UK’s science and engineering industry and we look forward to working with industrial partners in the years ahead, not just to invest, but also to support the technical evolution of the programme.

We are confident that working together with partners in the UK and around the world will enable the UK to bring a revolutionary technology to market.

A recent independent study by London Economics found that the UK economy has gained £1.4 billion from the government’s direct investment in fusion energy over the past decade.


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