Gloucestershire site selected for site of new prototype nuclear power plant


A site in Gloucestershire is under consideration as a possible location for a new prototype nuclear power plant.

Severn Edge has been selected as a potential site for a new fusion power plant, under the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) program.

The location is one of five UK locations chosen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The UK Department and Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) believe that fusion is a “world-changing energy source” that could “help support the low-carbon economies of the United Kingdom. ‘to come up”.

It says smelters would be able to provide a “virtually unlimited supply of low-carbon energy.”

The new smelter would also “support thousands of highly skilled jobs” and “spur” the start of the smelting industry in the UK, according to the two authorities.

What is a smelter?

A fusion power plant would copy the processes that power the sun and the stars, where atoms are fused to release energy. Atomic fusion produces almost four times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than coal, oil or gas.

STEP is a government-backed program that supports the construction of smelting plants. It aims to generate net electricity, to demonstrate how a fusion power plant would be maintained and how it would produce its own fuel.

The program also hopes to pave the way for the commercialization of the fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future factories around the world.

“A truly revolutionary and inexhaustible source of energy”

The UKAEA says it hopes to see a functioning smelter in operation in the early 2040s.

George Freeman, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, believes that the construction of the country’s first prototype fusion power plant “would position the UK as a world leader in this secure and sustainable source of energy. “.

He said: “Fusion energy has the potential to be a truly revolutionary and inexhaustible source of energy that can help us reduce our dependence on unreliable fossil fuels and fight climate change.”

STEP Director at UKAEA Paul Methven said the shortlist is a “big step” for the program as it “helps bring this difficult and long-term endeavor to life here and now.

He added: “It also increases our focus as we continue to design and deliver what we hope will be the world’s first prototype fusion power plant.”

“Gloucestershire at the forefront of the green industrial revolution”

Gloucestershire County Council said the plant could have a huge impact on economic regeneration in a large area – stretching from Cornwall to the West Midlands and Wales. This would include priority areas in the Government’s Upgrading Fund program, such as Gloucester, Forest of Dean and Stroud.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Head of Gloucestershire County Council, said: ‘It is fantastic news that Severn Edge’s nomination has been shortlisted, which has brought us closer to being at the forefront. of the green industrial revolution.

In South Gloucestershire, the head of the council, Toby Savage, said he was “delighted” to see Severn Edge shortlisted.

He added that he hopes the strength of the region’s supply chains and its proximity to the Culham Center for Fusion Technology in Oxfordshire will lead to “a long-term investment in renewable and secure energy in the south of Gloucestershire “.

When can Severn Edge be selected?

Fifteen sites were shortlisted following a call for applications open between December 2020 and March 2021.

In the next assessment phase, the UKAEA will work with the five shortlisted sites and local communities to gain a deeper understanding of the socio-economic, business and technical conditions of each site.

The winning location will be chosen by the BEIS Secretary of State at the end of 2022.

The other four sites considered are:

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