UK first nuclear fusion plan for Nottinghamshire power station

UK first nuclear fusion plan for Nottinghamshire power station

A “groundbreaking” nuclear fusion reactor could be built on the site of a coal power station in Nottinghamshire.

Fusion is a potential source of almost limitless clean energy but is currently only carried out in experiments.

The government is seeking sites to build what it said would be the UK’s, and potentially the world’s, first prototype commercial reactor.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, which is due to be decommissioned, is set to be put forward by the borough council.

Fusion – the process going on inside the sun – creates energy by forcing atoms together.

It is the opposite of standard nuclear reactors which rely on fission, breaking atoms apart.

Fusion is viewed as safe and clean but has so far proved difficult to harness.

Critics have said there are still huge hurdles to overcome and some experts believe existing, proven renewable technologies offer a more economical and timely way of tacking climate change.

Read more: Nuclear fusion: ‘A question of when, not if’

The government has set aside £220m for designing a prototype commercial reactor, known as Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP).

In December, it asked local authorities to come forward with potential sites.

Then Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Communities across the country have an incredible opportunity to secure their place in the history books as the home of STEP, helping the UK to be the first country in the world to commercialise fusion.”

Rushcliffe borough councillors are set to discuss putting the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal site forward.

If chosen, the prototype could be built there by 2040.

A report to the council, which recommends backing the bid, said it would “form the centre of a programme of activity supporting thousands of high-quality, high-tech jobs”.

“STEP will support economic growth, providing the opportunity to attract £1.5bn of inward investment, and the training of highly skilled engineers,” the report said.

“It will also be an integral part of meeting the global net zero challenge.”

The council said other sites were also being considered across the East Midlands but did not reveal where.

The Ratcliffe-on-Soar project is due to be discussed by the authority on 9 March.

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