Communities invited to bid by end March to host ‘next step’ fusion project

Communities have  until the end of March to put forward proposals to host a fusion project, the so-called Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), intended to be a major step towards commercialisation.

The process  is being run by UKAEA, which is looking for a 100Ha area that can be operated as a single site and which is not required to be a nuclear-licensed site. The government expects to decide on one site to take forward by the end of 2022.

The £222M investment in STEP aims to result in an integrated plant, with much of the infrastructure of a power station, that can demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion. AEA said that as a prototype plant, it’s likely that the main function of STEP will be to carry out tests and trials to demonstrate that the commercialisation of fusion is possible. It will generate some electricity as part of this demonstration and UKAEA may look at other ways to use the energy generated.

The design and construction of STEP will be delivered through UKAEA, targeting completion around 2040. If successful  the plant will pave the way to a fleet of commercial plants in the second half of the century.

AEA said sites had to show that they  have the right mix of social, commercial and technical conditions to host the new plant.  It said that as well as being home to the construction of STEP the successful site will become a global hub for fusion energy and associated industries.

Dounreay is said to be a likely bidder to host the plant.

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