Thursday 14 October 2021 3:11 pm

Five sites shortlisted for UK fusion energy plant

Five sites in England and Scotland have been nominated as the potential home of the UK’s first prototype fusion energy plant.

The nominees include Ardeer, Goole, Moorside, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, and Severn Edge.

The government is backing the Spherical Tomahak for Energy Production (STEP) programme to the tune of £222m. which aims to build a prototype fusion energy plant in the UK

STEP will look to demonstrate how a fusion plant can be maintained, how it can generate net electricity and how it will produce its own fuel.

The government believes that STEP can boost the country’s science and technology capabilities, by creating thousands of highly-skilled jobs during construction and operations, while also attracting other high-tech industries to its host region.

Fifteen sites were long-listed following an open call for sites between December 2020 and March 2021.

A final decision on the chosen site will be announced in 2022.

Fusion has the potential to provide a near-limitless source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars where atoms are fused to release energy, creating nearly four million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil or gas.

If successful, STEP could kickstart the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is targeting first operations in the early 2040s.

George Freeman, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation said, “Fusion energy has the potential to be a truly revolutionary and inexhaustible energy source that can help us reduce our dependence on unreliable fossil fuels and tackle climate change.”

The government has already invested £184m for new fusion facilities, infrastructure and apprenticeships at Culham Science Centre near Oxford and at Rotherham, South Yorkshire.