LONDON: Five sites in England and
Scotland are in the final running to be the home of the UK’s prototype fusion
government is backing plans for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production
(Step) with a final decision on its location expected at the end of 2022.
create thousands of jobs and aim to generate a “near-limitless”
source of low-carbon energy, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) said.
should be operational by the early 2040s, a spokesman said.
shortlisted sites are:
- Ardeer, North Ayrshire
- Goole, East Riding of
- Moorside, Cumbria
- Severn Edge, Gloucestershire
whittled down from a longlist of 15 sites, which included Chapelcross near
Annan, Pembroke in Pembrokeshire and Bridgwater Bay in Somerset.
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.
building the foundations to unlock the power of fusion energy, including the
location of the UK’s first prototype fusion power plant, we are positioning the
UK as a global leader in this safe and sustainable power source.”
Methven, Step programme director at UKAEA, said: “Through the next phase
of assessment, we look forward to working with the shortlisted sites and local
communities to gain a more in-depth understanding of the socio-economic,
commercial and technical conditions associated with each site, before we make
our final recommendations to the secretary of state in 2022.”
government has pledged £222m for the Step programme so far and invested a
further £184m at new fusion facilities at Culham Science Centre near Oxford and
at Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
this month the government published a green paper on the future of fusion
energy regulation and a separate fusion strategy.
What is fusion?
It is the
opposite of standard nuclear reactors which rely on fission, the breaking apart
viewed as safe and clean but has so far proved difficult to harness.
have said there are still huge hurdles to overcome and some experts believe
existing, proven renewable technologies offer a more economical and timely way
of tackling climate change.