UK Science Minister George Freeman has announced the establishment of a new organisation to deliver the UK’s fusion programme. UK Industrial Fusion Solutions Ltd (UKIFS) will deliver the prototype STEP fusion energy plant at West Burton in Nottinghamshire. STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), is planned to be built by 2040. The UK government is providing £220m ($249m) to fund the first phase of STEP, which will see the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) produce a concept design by 2024. The aim is to have a fully evolved design and approval to build by 2032, so that construction can begin.
The STEP programme is intended to pave the way to the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world, driving forward UK leadership in this sector. Freeman said: “The UK is the world-leader in fusion science and technology, and now we are moving to turn fusion from cutting edge science into a billion-pound clean energy industry.”
UKAEA CEO Professor Sir Ian Chapman said the establishment of UKIFS “will enable STEP to accelerate its journey towards delivery of electricity from fusion energy to the grid”. The new body, which will be formed over the next 18 months, will be a company limited by shares established to work together with industry to deliver the prototype plant by 2040.
Image: Cutaway of the STEP power plant (courtesy of UKAEA)