Bid submitted for groundbreaking fusion power site
By Rob Freeman | 31st March 2021
A bid to bring a groundbreaking fusion power plant to Gloucestershire has been formally submitted.
The plan for the former nuclear power station sites at Berkeley and Oldbury-on-Severn has been submitted by the Western Gateway to the UK Atomic Energy Authority ahead of today's deadline.
If successful, the bid is expected to bring thousands of jobs and major investment to the area.
Katherine Bennett, chair of the Western Gateway partnership which was created to deliver economic development on either side of the River Severn, said: "I am genuinely excited by this nomination and what STEP Fusion could bring to the Western Gateway.
"We have a phenomenal skills and supply chain base here in Western England and South Wales and assets that are unrivalled anywhere else in the UK.
"This is exactly the sort of major infrastructure project with multiple cross-border and cross-sectoral benefits that our partnership has been established to drive and champion."
The proposed site for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) plant at the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park at Berkeley is owned by SGS College, who are among the groups backing the bid.
SGS chief executive Kevin Hamblin said: "STEP is really about the future and the next generation, both in terms of employment and skills, but also for the creation of low carbon technologies to fight climate change.
"The park is already home to projects working in this space so it fits perfectly into that developing ecosystem.
The bid is also backed by South Gloucestershire Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Stroud District Council, Nuclear South West, Business West, West of England Combined Authority, West of England LEP, GFirst LEP and Bristol University's South West Nuclear Hub.
Business West chief executive Phil Smith said: "The region has always been at the forefront of innovation in power generation.
"We have modern construction know-how, a skilled workforce and first-class education and training institutes to support a world-leading project"
The UKAEA's selection process will produce a shortlist of three for submission to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy with the final selection expected at the end of next year.
It would be expected to be operational by 2040 with much of the supporting eco-system developed in the next two-10 years.
Fusion technology uses the same principles that power the sun, fusing hydrogen isotopes to make helium and abundant, safe, carbon neutral energy.
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