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£220m for UK’s first active fusion reactor

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty


The UK government has selected the site for a new fusion energy plant and provided £220m (€250m) to create a concept design by 2024.

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) (above) will be built at the West Burton power station site in Nottinghamshire by 2040. This will be connected to the National Grid and producing net energy, although it is not expected to be a commercially operating plant at this stage.

Four other sites were on the shortlist, including Ardeer, Goole, Moorside and Severn Edge (Oldbury & Berkeley).

The programme will also commit immediately to the development of apprenticeship schemes in the region, building on the success of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Oxfordshire Advanced Skills centre in Culham, where the research tokomak is based.

Chip maker Nvidia has created a detailed photorealistic digital twin of the STEP tokomak to help the development of the design. The Omniverse tool takes a large number of parts and inputs from large teams of engineering, design and research experts throughout the process.

“There are many different components, and we have to take into account lots of different areas of physics and engineering,” said Lee Margetts, UKAEA chair of digital engineering for nuclear fusion at the University of Manchester. “If we make a design change in one system, this has a knock-on effect on other systems.”

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