The United Kingdom will build a nuclear fusion power plant prototype by 2040; it may be the first commercial nuclear reactor prototype ever made, according to business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Rees-Mogg stated that the fusion energy facility would replace the West Burton coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire, which was slated to close this year as part of the £220 million STEP initiative led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).
“Over the decades, we have established ourselves as pioneers in fusion science, and as a country, our capabilities to surmount these obstacles are unparalleled. I am delighted to announce a vital step in that mission,” said Rees-Mogg.
“We will build the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant in Nottinghamshire, replacing the West Burton coal-fired power station with a beacon of bountiful green energy.
“The plant will be the first of its kind, built by 2040 and capable of putting energy on the grid, and in doing so will prove the commercial viability of fusion energy to the world.”
Although fusion has the potential to be an endless source of clean energy, it is currently only being investigated due to its technical challenges. However, in the not-too-distant future, it might turn into a secure and healthy alternative source of energy due to rising energy prices and a cost-of-living issue.
The business secretary claims that the UK economy may gain “billions of pounds” from the fusion energy industry and that the facility will enable the nation to “design, produce, and sell the first fleet of fusion plants” around the globe.
“We are really pleased to confirm the West Burton site, in North Nottinghamshire, has been selected as the future home for the STEP prototype fusion energy plant. STEP will be a major infrastructure project that will provide a significant catalyst to the supply chain across the UK, as well as demonstrating [that] fusion energy can provide net energy to the grid,” said a spokesman for the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
“We look forward to working with stakeholders and communities across the region to develop our ambitious plans and realize broader social and economic benefits in the months and years ahead.”
The Nuclear Industry Association predicts that STEP will contribute to establishing a regional and local supply chain and creating long-term, specialized jobs.
“This is a huge moment for fusion energy in the UK. The STEP project will bring real benefits, including good jobs, opportunities for local companies, and an ambition to drive skills and investment in the community,” Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association trade body, added.
“As we look to moving away from fossil fuels towards net zero, it is important that we find new ways of meeting our growing energy demands. Fusion offers the opportunity to produce virtually limitless energy that will power low-carbon economies worldwide. The UK can play a central role in making that a reality.”