World's first nuclear fusion power plant to be built in Nottinghamshire creating hundreds of jobs

Conceptual illustration of the STEP fusion power plant Credit: GOV.UK

The world's first power plant, which will be able to harness the same nuclear reactions that power the sun, is to be built in North Nottinghamshire.

The site at West Burton will be the first site in the world to develop a commercial power station that will use the energy produced by fusion reactions to generate electricity.

The Business Secretary Jacob Rees Mogg, revealed the news at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday.

The technology could offer a limitless source of clean electricity.

Councillor Ben Bradley MP, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said it will bring millions of pounds worth of investment and thousands of jobs into the region.

"The site will be the international hub for carbon-neutral, fusion development, attracting the brightest minds locally and from across the world, boosting skills, training, and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs."

He added: "The prototype site will be the first time fusion energy will be commercialised, so there’s big plans to sell this technology across the world, which means Nottinghamshire will  be even more on the export map."

Fusion energy is based on the same principle by which stars create heat and light.

Atoms are combined rather than split, as they are in the case of reactions that drive existing nuclear power stations.

With no greenhouse gas emissions and abundant fuels, fusion can be a safe and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply.

But harnessing and reining in the forces involved is a huge challenge, as at the heart of a fusion reactor is a super-hot cloud of electrically charged gas many times hotter than the sun’s core.

However, researchers, who hope fusion energy will become a sustainable, low-carbon energy means of tackling the global energy crisis, say it is a power worth striving for.

The construction of the prototype plant in West Burton is due to start in the early 2030s and operational around 2040.

The technology could offer a limitless source of clean electricity. Credit: UK Atomic Energy Authority

What are the benefits of fusion energy?

Based on research, UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) considers fusion energy to have several benefits:

  • It produces zero greenhouse gas emissions and no waste products - its only by-product is helium, a non-toxic gas.

  • Fusion energy is inherently safe as is difficult to reach and maintain the precise conditions for fusion – if any disturbance occurs, the plasma cools within seconds and reaction stops

  • There is enough fusion fuel to power the planet for hundreds of millions of years as the raw materials for energy production are found in sea water and the earth’s crust.

  • Fusion can produce energy on-demand and is not affected by weather.

  • Fusion power stations require less land take than other renewable technologies

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