Government today (14th October) told the South West that the region could be the location for the UK’s prototype fusion plant, which works on the same principles that power our sun.
The government announcement means that the Severn Edge nomination to develop the UK’s first prototype plant, is now one of five sites through to the next phase of the national selection process.
If successful, the Severn Edge nomination could be given the go-ahead by the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, by the end of next year.
Five sites have been shortlisted as the potential future home of the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, or “STEP”.
• Severn Edge
— UK Atomic Energy Authority (@UKAEAofficial) October 14, 2021
Today’s decision on the selection process could pave the way for the fusion plant to be created at Berkeley in Gloucestershire, and at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire.
The prototype plant could lead to thousands of highly skilled jobs across the South West region, into South Wales and the West Midlands.
Severn Edge is the site where the STEP programme - Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production- could be built to support the UK’s transformation to a low carbon economy. It is targeting operations around 2040.
Katherine Bennett, Chair of the Western Gateway partnership, said:
“It’s fantastic to see the government honouring the commitments to prioritise the hosting of a STEP fusion site on merit.
“We truly believe that the Western Gateway geography offers an unrivalled breadth of skills, supply chain and technology to deliver this pioneering approach to renewable energy.
“I am very excited about the next phase of work with UKAEA, as we continue the assessment process and work together towards a hugely significant piece of infrastructure for the region and for the UK”.
Andy Bates of Nuclear South West, the industry body powered by Business West, said:
“We believe that our Severn Edge nomination is very strong scientifically and technically.
“We have an incredible scientific and engineering base here, with high temperature expertise being a particular strength. We are also one of the leading regions in digital and digital design, which will be crucial to the success of STEP”.
The Severn Edge team believe that the site’s proximity to the Culham Centre for Fusion Technology in Oxfordshire will be an added advantage in the final selection process.
“Culham is just 60 miles away and is the beating heart of fusion technology in the UK”, said Andy Bates. ”and we see Severn Edge as the lungs in that fusion body.
“These are very exciting times for this region”.
Professor Tom Scott, one of the Severn Edge nomination team and co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub at the University of Bristol, said:
“The region has a vibrant supply chain and workforce for building nuclear reactors as well as all the necessary expertise in high temperature materials. So, we have the site and the skilled people to deliver this fantastic world-leading project that will ‘Level Up’ for the South West in terms of jobs and prosperity”.
Writing in the government’s new Fusion Strategy, George Freeman, MP, Under Secretary of State, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, says:
“Fusion could be the ultimate clean power solution, representing a low carbon, safe, continuous and sustainable source of energy.
“This is not science fiction but science fact”.
The five sites that have been shortlisted are:
- Ardeer (North Ayrshire)
- Goole (East Riding of Yorkshire)
- Moorside (Cumbria)
- Ratcliffe-on-Soar (Nottinghamshire)
- Severn Edge (South Gloucestershire & Gloucestershire)
For further information and interviews, contact James Cooke, Interim Executive Officer, Western Gateway: 07780 494199