The UK government has 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. Potential participants will have until the end of March 2021 to submit their nomination. Completion of the project in 2040 is envisaged.
The successful site “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 invitation follows the UK prime minister’s ten point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution set out earlier this month which committed to fulfilling the UK’s ambition to be the first country in the world to commercialise fusion energy technology, with £222 million allocated to beginning the STEP design work.
Business and Energy secretary Alok Sharma commented: “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 commented: “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 … positioning itself as a pioneer in sustainable fusion energy. 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.