Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Plans move forward as Rushcliffe shortlisted to host ‘world’s first’ fusion energy plant

Ambitious plans which could see Rushcliffe host the world’s first fusion energy plant have moved a step closer.

It was announced earlier this year that the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site in Rushcliffe had a one-in-five chance of being transformed into the UK’s first fusion energy source as part of a ‘green industrial revolution’.

Now, Nottinghamshire County Council documents reveal progress with the plans before the final decision on a location is made in late 2022.

Fusion produces a source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun – and the new site could be built as soon as 2040, if scientists can find a way to make the technology work.

Although it is a form of nuclear power, fusion produces only a tiny amount of radioactive waste  and the process involved is the opposite of nuclear fission – the reaction used in nuclear power stations today. As such the technology is considered to be far safer and more efficient.

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Council documents ahead of the Economic Development and Asset Management Committee on December 7 state: “If Nottinghamshire were to be a home to the UK’s ground-breaking prototype fusion power plant, it will pave the way to a supply of low carbon, clean energy and help support thousands of new highly skilled jobs.”

Councillors will be asked to agree on setting aside £100,000 to “support the selection process” during today’s meeting.

Another Nottinghamshire site, West Burton A, near Retford, has made the reserve list for the project, which is known as STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production).

Mansfield MP and County Council leader Ben Bradley said in October that there was something “poetic” about the potential of replacing a coal-fired power station with a renewable energy source.

Council documents reveal that in November, the UKAEA (United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority) set out its plans to assess the shortlisted sites in more detail.

It said more detailed socioeconomic and environmental evidence is required before a decision is made on the final site.

The report states that the UKAEA also wants to “build good relationships with the host community” and is proposing to hold a range of consultation events with stakeholders and local communities, likely to be in February and March 2022.

The UKAEA will then make a recommendation to the Secretary of state and in late 2022 the host site will be officially announced.

A council document stated: “Given the significant benefits that could be derived from playing a leading role in the development of a Zero-carbon economy it is clear that a high-profile project such as STEP should be secured in Nottinghamshire.

“In effect, against stiff competition, Nottinghamshire has been successful in securing one site in the last five and one sitting in reserve. This is a major achievement given the range of other competing sites in the UK.

“The shortlisting of the Ratcliffe on Soar site nomination presents the opportunity to secure the high-profile STEP project in Nottinghamshire. This could result in the creation of thousands of highly skilled jobs in Nottinghamshire and across the East Midlands and drive the green
industrial revolution.”

The other shortlisted sites are in North Ayrshire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Gloucestershire.

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