Five Scottish sites make long list for £222m nuclear fusion plant



Five Scottish locations have made the UK Atomic Energy Agency’s (UKAEA) long-list for a potential site to build the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant.

The UK Government opened calls for potential sites last year, with nominations being closed at the end of March this year.

The UKAEA has now published the list of 15 potential sites for the fusion plant.

The potential Scottish sites are:

  • Dounreay in Caithness, which is part of the Caithness and North Sutherland regeneration partnership.

  • East Airdrie.

  • Poneil in Lanarkshire.

  • Ardeer in North Ayrshire.

  • Chapelcross nuclear power station in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, brought forward by the South of Scotland Enterprise.

The UKAEA stated that acceptance of the sites into the long-list did not indicate they were “preferred” or “desired”, or that it believed their development were “in all cases possible”.

It is now undertaking assessment of the sites, following them meeting the procedural criteria for selection.

The UKAEA said it will only form a view on the potential suitability of the sites once shortlisted, a process which will take place in Autumn.

UKAEA is hoping to have the plant operating in the early 2040s, with initial aims to produce a concept design by 2024.

Fusion power is believed to be a source of limitless clean energy, but the process is only used currently in the experimental phase.

It is energy created by forcing atoms together in the same process by which the sun produces radiation, unlike a nuclear reactor, which relies on fission and breaking atoms apart to generate energy.

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The new reactor is expected to generate around 500 MW of energy.

The programme known as Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) will have £222m committed to the design work.

STEP programme director Paul Methven said: “Selecting a site is critical for that transition to delivery and we are pleased to have received a number of high quality nominations.

“We are looking forward to getting to know the nominating communities as we progress through the assessment process over the next year.”

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