Thousands of jobs to be created in Nottinghamshire as green light given to ‘world-first’ energy plant

A mock-up of a STEP plant

Billions of pounds worth of investment and thousands of jobs will come to Nottinghamshire after a site in the region was chosen as the home of what is hoped to be world’s first commercial prototype fusion energy plant.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced on Monday afternoon (October 3) that West Burton A, near Retford, is due to be the first site in the world to develop a commercial power station that will use the energy produced by fusion reactions to generate electricity. The site was among 15 nominated locations.

The ambitious project – Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production – known as STEP, is being led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). Fusion offers an “inherently safe and virtually limitless” source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Councillor Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are so proud to have played our part in this amazing, once-in-a lifetime news for Nottinghamshire.

“This will bring incredible benefits to the county and wider region, including millions, if not billions worth of investment, putting it at the heart of the government’s plans to revolutionise the way we generate energy in the UK.

“The site will be the international hub for carbon-neutral, fusion development, attracting the brightest minds locally and from across the world, boosting skills, training, and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs.

“We are an ambitious county and have a proud heritage of producing energy which helped power the industrial revolution, but now we will be at the heart of the UK green energy revolution too.

“The prototype site will be the first time fusion energy will be commercialised, so there’s big plans to sell this technology across the world, which means Nottinghamshire will be even more on the export map.

“This news positions Nottinghamshire and the region more firmly as major player in the levelling up agenda. And under our proposed East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority, adds strength to our calls to be considered for other world-leading economic projects in our region.

Nottinghamshire County Council coordinated the nomination process for the county working with several partners, including the site landowners EDF, Bassetlaw District Council, Midlands Engine, ERA and local LEPs.

Sir John Peace, Midlands Engine chairman, said: “The project is more than a power station – it will require an ecosystem of innovation and development and will become a global focus for fusion power.”

Matt Sykes, managing director of EDF’s Generation business, West Burton site owners, said: “Developing such an exciting new project continues this tradition and has the potential to transform both the region and the UK’s long term energy supply.”

UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) will be responsible for all aspects of the development, consenting, construction and operation of the facility. The construction of the prototype plant is due to start in the early 2030s and operational around 2040.

A community event at the West Burton site is a planned for Thursday 6 October 3-7pm.