Yorkshire site on list of potential locations for future fusion energy plant

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A Yorkshire location is on an initial list of 15 sites in the running to become the future home of the UK’s prototype fusion energy power plant – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, or STEP.

Goole in East Yorkshire is being considered for this facility, alongside other locations in England, Scotland and Wales.

But no view will be formalised on the potential suitability of sites until the shortlisting phase, which will take place in the autumn.

The successful site for STEP will become a global hub for fusion energy and associated industries, creating thousands of highly skilled jobs during the construction and operation of the plant, while attracting investment that will enable the development of a new UK science and technology centre of excellence.

Fusion technology has the potential to provide an abundant source of low-carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars. It is intended to play an important role alongside established renewable technologies such as wind and solar.

STEP will be the UK’s prototype fusion plant and is intended to pave the way for commercial fusion power.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority is targeting first operations in the early 2040s, with initial aims to produce a concept design by 2024.

The next stage of the process is a thorough technical assessment to assess the comparative suitability of the sites.

Once all assessment processes are complete, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will make a final decision on the site; anticipated around the end of 2022.

STEP programme director, Paul Methven, said: “STEP is about building on the amazing science done over decades in fusion and translating that into a real prototype power plant that paves the way for this fantastic new energy source.

“Selecting a site is critical for that transition to delivery and we are pleased to have received a number of high quality nominations.

“We are looking forward to getting to know the nominating communities as we progress through the assessment process over the next year.

“Wherever STEP is eventually built, it will bring significant benefits to the region, including employment, skills development and the development of a high-technology, low-carbon supply chain.”