Fusion developer UKAEA is inviting nominations to host its prototype power plant, and potentially create a world-leading industrial cluster for low-carbon fusion power.
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is the UK’s bid to build the world’s first commercial fusion power station.
UKAEA and partners are currently working to complete the conceptual design by 2024, backed by £220 million government funding announced in October 2019, with the aim of constructing the prototype plant by 2040.
The STEP prototype will demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion by producing net energy, showing that electricity can be predictably and stably produced in a fusion power station.
The government is now asking UK regions and communities to put forward proposals to host STEP. The successful site will be home to the construction of the plant, and become a global hub for fusion energy and associated industries.
Plant construction and operation could create thousands of local highly-skilled jobs, with many more in the local supply chain. The development could also form the core of a new science and technology cluster for the UK.
“STEP is about moving from research and development to delivery,” says UKAEA CEO Ian Chapman. “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.”
Nominations can be submitted online until the end of March 2021. Communities will need to demonstrate that their areas have the right mix of social, commercial and technical conditions, including adequate land, grid connection and water supply.
The STEP prototype will not permanently generate power to the grid, but will need a strong grid connection to retain the option of putting power into the system, and to ensure its inward power needs. It will have many of the features of a fully operational power station, including infrastructure and associated research and development facilities. It is likely to be a delivery project of comparable scale and value to a major operational power station.
- For full details of the STEP siting process and how to nominate a site, go to step.ukaea.uk