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Notts’ bid to host the ‘world’s first’ fusion energy plant moves a STEP closer to reality

11 June 2021

Two existing coal-fired power stations in Nottinghamshire in the running to host  what is hoped to be the world’s first prototype fusion energy plant, have made it to the next stage.

Part of the site at Ratcliffe-on-Soar and West Burton A, near Retford, have both made it to the final 15 sites as part of a national search for potential locations by the government for alternative energy plants.

The UK Government is bidding to be the first to develop a commercial power station that will use the energy produced by fusion reactions to generate electricity. Fusion offers an inherently safe and virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.  

The ambitious project  -  Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production - known as STEP, is being led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).

The authority announced today ( Friday 11 June)  that part of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station site and West Burton A will now progress to the next stage of assessment.

The two sites join a 15-strong ‘long-list’ of sites identified by the UKAEA  as having the potential to host the fusion power station, aimed to be built by 2040.

Nottinghamshire County Council is coordinating this nomination process for the county working with several partners, including the landowners of these sites as well as Rushcliffe Borough and Bassetlaw District councils.

Councillor Ben Bradley MP, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said

This is hugely exciting news for Nottinghamshire. Achieving STEP would bring incredible benefits to the county, putting it at the heart of the government’s plans to revolutionise the way we generate energy in the UK and  position Nottinghamshire as a major player in the levelling up agenda. 

“It would build on the existing strengths of our universities and manufacturing sectors, but would also create new skills, training, and thousands of highly skilled jobs, attracting investment and deliver amazing overall benefits to our regional economy including the lucrative opportunities for the local supply chain to help construct the plant.

“We are an ambitious county and have a proud heritage of producing energy which helped power the industrial revolution, but looking to the future, we want to be at the heart of the UK green energy revolution

“As global energy demand continues to grow, this technology is expected to play a crucial role in helping to achieve net zero emissions - in a safe and sustainable way - during the second half of this century.

“We’ll be doing all that we can to help bring this once-in-a-life time opportunity to  Nottinghamshire by continuing to work closely with our partners, including the landowners.”

UKAEA now plan to engage with the relevant local authorities and the current landowners to decide the next round of shortlisted sites before the end of 2021.  After final shortlisting has been completed, UKAEA plan to start engaging with communities around the preferred sites before selecting the final site that will host STEP, which is expected by the end of 2022. 

So what is fusion energy?

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