South West backed to power nuclear future
By Rob Freeman | 4th December 2020
The South West is being backed to deliver Government-backed plans for the UK to host the world's first fusion power plant.
Nuclear South West, which brings together the region's nuclear industry, academic and public sectors, is confident the area can rise to the challenge after Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma called for the UK "to be a trailblazer in developing fusion energy".
He said communities had an "incredible opportunity to secure their place in the history books."
The UK Atomic Energy Authority today announced an initial investment of £220million for a Fusion Technical Centre, which will develop into a multi-billion pound investment and create thousands of highly skilled jobs.
Andy Bates, innovation lead at Business West-powered industry body Nuclear South West, said "Fusion technology uses the same principles that power our sun.
"It is zero carbon, uses naturally abundant fuels and can solve many of the challenges associated with the UK becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2050."
The South West played a key role in the development of nuclear power in the 1950s and today's announcement could place it at the forefront in the development of fusion power.
Building on its commitment to drive forward the UK transition to a zero-carbon economy by 2050, the region - which also boasts high-temperate materials expertise in Gloucestershire - is already investing heavily in infrastructure to advance fusion power.
Nuclear South West chairman Matt Burley said: "The UK finds itself at the forefront of the energy revolution and the South West is uniquely placed to deliver this once in a generation opportunity for the UK.
"The South West boasts world-class advanced engineering sectors in nuclear and aerospace, both vital for fusion technology.
"We also have well-developed marine, digital, and photonics clusters, all with highly innovative workforces uniquely positioned to adapt and develop commercial fusion. We are ready, willing and able to support this critical investment."
Nuclear South West is a partnership of industry, academic and public sector supported by the Heart of the South West, West of England and GFirst LEPs, with involvement from public sector and strategic organisations.
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