A proposal to locate a £222million prototype fusion power plant in Caithness have taken a step forward after the project made it onto a “longlist” of sites across the UK.
The Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) wants the project to be sited at Dounreay.
A bid to host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) prototype fusion power plant was previously submitted in March.
It has now been included in a list of 15 sites for further investigation by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), who launched the open call in December 2020.
Highland Council has previously backed the bid saying it could create hundreds of jobs for the area and provide “transformational” opportunities.
Ian Ross, CNSRP chair, said: “This is a great opportunity for Caithness and North Sutherland. We already have significant expertise in highly regulated technically challenging developments.
“We also have an existing supply chain, a welcoming community and support from all CNSRP member organisations.
“The fusion prototype development would dovetail perfectly with the decommissioning of Dounreay and complement our area’s existing wind and tidal forms of renewable energy generation.
“All of this and more means Caithness is ideally placed to host this development and make sure it delivers widespread long-term economic and community benefits, as well as wider progress towards the country’s net zero targets.
The fusion prototype development would dovetail perfectly with the decommissioning of Dounreay and complement our area’s existing wind and tidal forms of renewable energy generation.”
“I am delighted we have made it to the next stage and look forward to working with the UKAEA on evaluating our bid.”
Fusion technology transformational
Fusion technology is being developed worldwide as a transformational source of low carbon energy. It seeks to replicate the energy production process of the sun by fusing hydrogen into helium, producing huge amounts of clean energy, with virtually no emissions or waste.
The development would ultimately produce electricity for the national grid and could be instrumental in achieving Scotland’s net-zero targets and a carbon neutral economy.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority is holding a competition to host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production programme, which aims to show the commercial viability of fusion in producing clean energy.
STEP programme director Paul Methven said: “The publication of the longlist of sites is the next stage in the process of finding a home for STEP.
“We were pleased to receive a number of high-quality nominations and will now continue with in-depth technical assessment over the summer before we publish a shortlist later in the year.
“We’re looking forward to getting out to each of the shortlisted communities at this point to visit the site and engage with both stakeholders and communities.”
Other sites on the shortlist are:
East Airdrie – (Fusion Forward (East Airdrie) Consortium )
Poneil – (Fusion Forward (Poneil) Consortium)
Ardeer – (Fusion Forward (Ardeer) Consortium)
Chapelcross – (South of Scotland Enterprise)
Moorside – (Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, in partnership with Copeland Borough Council)
Bay Fusion (Heysham) – (Collaboration between industry, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster University)
Goole – (East Riding of Yorkshire Council)
West Burton – (Nottinghamshire County Council)
Ratcliffe on Soar – (Nottinghamshire County Council)
Milford Haven – (Pembrokeshire County Council)
Severn Edge (Oldbury/Berkeley) – (Western Gateway)
Aberthaw – (Vale of Glamorgan Council)
Bridgwater Bay – (Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership)
Bradwell (Essex) – (Belport)
The programme is backed by £222 million from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024.