Energy crisis lifeline: UK nuclear fusion power plant will provide huge £11bn boost to economy | Science | New
As the crippling energy crisis rages on as gas prices soar, the government is scrambling to find alternative energy sources that can help bring down bills. A clean alternative is nuclear fusion, which has been dubbed a “holy grail” energy source – but the code behind generating this process has yet to be cracked.
It works by generating electricity using the heat from nuclear fusion reactions to create unlimited clean energy in the same process used by stars.
Until now, no fusion reactor has been able to use less energy than it produces.
But the UK is racing to crack the code, and the prototype of a proposed site to house a nuclear power station near Goole in East Yorkshire has been given the green light by the government.
It is one of five sites shortlisted by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) as a potential location to host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme.
This is the scheme, which has been backed by an initial £222m from the government, to build a prototype fusion power plant that will one day create unlimited clean energy.
The main objective of STEP is to supply 100 megawatts (MW) of net electricity to the grid.
The winning location is expected to be announced later this year.
A range of stakeholders led by York University. and leading industry bodies have backed the bid launched by East Riding of Yorkshire Council for the prototype, which would generate over £1 billion in gross value added (GVA).
A report by Dr Mark Graham, a senior economist at the University of Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation Programme, argued that the plant would be a huge win for the region.
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Cllr Jane Evison, portfolio holder for economic investment, growth and tourism at the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The STEP fusion energy project would be truly transformative for the East Riding and provide opportunities for generations to come.
“This economic report further quantified the huge economic benefits the plant could bring in terms of construction costs, investment, training and jobs.
“The employment impact of local people in multiple roles cannot be underestimated, nor can STEP’s ambition to boost skills and investment in our local schools and colleges.
“The council will continue to work hard with our stakeholder partners to ensure the East Riding has done its utmost when the preferred location is named later this year.”